Local basketball star gives youngsters 'shot of hope'

April 22, 1995|By Robert Hilson Jr. | Robert Hilson Jr.,Sun Staff Writer

Glenn Stanley knows the basketball courts of Reservoir Hill well. Each summer for 15 years, he'd run in pickup games daily on courts until sundown.

Afterward, he'd sit and learn, as the older boys talked about a life other than basketball. Gunshots often would echo through the community, and police or ambulance sirens would wail as the group talked at courtside into the night.

"They taught me a lot of things about what's going on in the streets, about the drug dealers and shootings and crime," Mr. Stanley, 30, recalled yesterday.

"Things they were getting caught up with. Things I knew I didn't want to happen to me. It was like they didn't want nothing to happen to me."

Mr. Stanley, who now plays semiprofessional basketball, returned the favor this week, holding a basketball camp on the courts at Linden Avenue and Ducatel Street and at the John Eager Howard Recreation Center for area youngsters on spring break.

"I feel someone has to help them, give them some time," he said. "I learned right and wrong from my brothers and some of the older guys."

And learned well. He graduated from Douglass High School, received a basketball scholarship and graduated from Southwest Baptist University in Missouri and now plays forward for the semipro Pottsville Stingers basketball team in Pennsylvania.

He also works for the United Cerebral Palsy Foundation as an industrial supervisor.

To many, he has paid his dues and earned his way out of his old neighborhood, able to live anywhere he'd like, establish new friends and never look back at Reservoir Hill.

However, he has remained in the community and lives on Brookfield Avenue. He maintains the bonds with friends who have fallen on hard times.

Still, he'd like to see the community regain the sense of security it had when he was growing up.

"The streets are not safe for little kids anymore, the area is being infested with drugs, some of the teen-agers don't have the respect for the little kids like they used to," Mr. Stanley said. "At least they could make the playgrounds safe."

Mr. Stanley was the second-youngest of nine children who lived with their parents in a stately three-story brick rowhouse in the 700 block of Reservoir St., less than a mile from Druid Hill Park. That house is now vacant and boarded, as are three others on the block.

Today, Reservoir Hill is a racially mixed community of 8,500; more than 25 percent of its residents receive public assistance, according to city statistics.

Police term crime in the community "moderate," and say drug dealing has slowed since the buildings on the south side of the 900 block of Whitelock Street were demolished last year.

Residents say the dealing is just less blatant. Many drug transactions now are done on small side streets or in alleys, although hawkers still cruise the streets for customers.

Mr. Stanley carries some bad memories of the area. An older brother, Nathaniel, was clubbed to death with a bat about five years ago in a robbery. Soon after, a friend was shot in the leg when caught in the cross-fire of a gunfight.

Rodell Bailey-El, 29, played basketball with Mr. Stanley while growing up, but got caught up in "street life."

"All I believed was that I was going to die getting high," said Mr. Bailey-El, who was raised and still lives in Reservoir Hill. "I thought I was going to die on Whitelock Street. I had dreams to play ball, but no one was there to give me support. These kids need it."

And his lifelong friend, Mr. Stanley, is a role model who can provide that support, he said.

"He's giving them that shot of hope. He's a blessing to the whole community. A lot of people left the neighborhood, went to college and forgot this place. But it still matters to him."

At the basketball camp yesterday, about 75 girls and boys from ages 3 to 16 scrambled after balls, performed defensive drills and enthusiastically went through a line for layups, as Mr. Stanley played the roles of both proud father and drill sergeant.

"You've got to keep trying, keep trying, keep trying," he yelled. "It doesn't hurt to try hard."

The message got through. Kermit Carter, 8, sat exhausted against a wall during a passing drill.

"I'm not stopping," he said. "I won't stop until I can't anymore."

Charles Harrison, who has run the John Eager Howard Recreation Center in Reservoir Hill for 15 years, can recall Mr. Stanley developing his skills on area courts.

"I've always had respect for him as a ballplayer," Mr. Harrison said. "Now I respect him even more for what he's doing for the kids."

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.