Hopkins tries to 'give back' to troubled kids Ex-Overlea star counsels those from violent areas

July 19, 1996|By KEVIN LANGBAUM | KEVIN LANGBAUM,SUN STAFF

When former Overlea High basketball star Bernard Hopkins goes to his internship at a home for troubled boys in Richmond, Va., he sees kids trying to escape the violence on the streets. It's the same kind of violence that Hopkins saw growing up in East Baltimore, the same kind that took the life of David Brown, a basketball standout at Baltimore City Community College and a good friend of Hopkins'.

"Something has to be done," Hopkins said. "Too many young kids are dying."

Hopkins and other local basketball stars, including Sam Cassell of the Houston Rockets and Keith Booth of the University of Maryland, are hoping that tomorrow's second annual David Brown Memorial All-Star Game will help the fight against violence. The game, which starts at 6: 30 p.m. at BCCC's Liberty campus, will promote the message "Peace on the Streets."

"People in general need to come together," Hopkins said. "Not just basketball players. It's got to be everybody coming together to stop the violence."

At the boys home in Richmond, Hopkins works as a counselor trying to lead troubled kids in the right direction. Just eight years ago, Hopkins was a freshman at Lake Clifton High headed in the wrong direction until his mother withdrew him from Lake Clifton and sent him to Overlea.

"That's probably the best thing that ever happened to me," he said. At Overlea, Hopkins turned himself around and played basketball and football before enrolling at Hagerstown Junior College. After two years there, he moved on to Virginia Commonwealth University, where he earned Colonial Athletic Association player of the year honors last year.

"You've got to give back," he said. "If kids see you can do it, why can't they do it. You need to have more positive role models to follow."

Sonny Smith, Hopkins' coach at VCU, said Hopkins is dedicated to helping others, especially kids. Hopkins frequently visits children at hospitals and makes speeches at elementary schools, Smith said.

"He's a caring person who goes out of his way to help people," Smith said. "He thrives on that type of thing."

Despite earning MVP honors at the pre-NBA draft Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, Hopkins was not selected in the June draft. He said he has worked out with two NBA teams and will continue to audition for others in the next few weeks. He hopes to play in the NBA this year, but said he will play in Europe if no team signs him.

Facts and figures

What: Second David Brown Memorial All-Star Game

When: Tomorrow, 6: 30 p.m. Where: Baltimore City CC Physical Education Center, Liberty Campus, 2901 Liberty Heights Ave.

Top scheduled players: Sam Cassell (Houston Rockets/Dunbar), Keith Booth (Maryland/Dunbar), Donta Bright (Massachusetts/Dunbar)

Tickets: $5, available at the Physical Education Center

Pub Date: 7/19/96

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