*In the highly competitive and widely watched game of basketball, players are often polarized, misunderstood and judged by what they do on the court. There are few players that have transcended the game itself and that have emerged as giants amongst men.
Sonny Weems is such a man. As a child, Weems was born with cleft feet. When this diagnosis was learned, doctors and family were certain that the toddler would not be able to walk, let alone run.
His childhood was quite tumultuous. But, after enduring many painful years of growth and wearing corrective shoes, the young Weems was able to begin playing sports and living an active lifestyle. The budding athlete went on to become a state long jump and high jump champion in track and field at West Memphis High School.
Although Weems excelled as a stellar track and field athlete, he would ultimately go on to pursue his true love of basketball. His height and natural dexterity with the ball helped to shape his court presence. But, his dedication to the game and on-court dominance helped to solidify him as a great basketball player. After much deliberation and an outpouring of support from his family, Weems decided to make basketball his sport of choice and with that switch, his life would never be the same.
Weems graduated from West Memphis High School where he was named first team all-state as a senior. He led his team to the Arkansas 5A Championship before going on to play for two years at The University of Arkansas-Fort Smith. While there, Weems continued to perfect his craft and to polish his skillset. He became an All-American while at The University of Arkansas-Fort Smith and became ranked No. 1 in the nation by several national ranking services. Weems would go on to lead his team to two National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Eastern Conference Division titles.
The star athlete would later go on to sign with the prestigious University of Arkansas. As a Razorback, he competed for coach Stan Heath in his final year of coaching. He averaged 11.8 points per game for the SEC NCAA Division I powerhouse and would lead his team to two consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances. Weems would later finish his senior year as the State Farm College Slam Dunk Champion at the NCAA Final Four. After college, he continued to pursue his dreams in basketball, as he was selected as the 39th pick in the 2008 NBA Draft by the Chicago Bulls.
Weems has played for 10 years at the professional level and is still going strong. His NBA career includes the Denver Nuggets, Toronto Raptures, Phoenix Suns and the Philadelphia 76ers. He continued his love for the sport and subsequently went on to play in Europe in the summer of 2011 for three seasons before returning to the NBA in July of 2015. But, his love for the game internationally helped to push his return overseas. He has taken international teams to multiple EuroLeague Final Fours and was named to the First Team EuroLeague Competition, which is the top of the line in international sports. He played last season in China, where he was named one of the top ten players in scoring averaging more than 30 points per game.
Weems continues to actively lead on and off the court with the work that he does to give back to the community. In 2012, he created and developed Weems Week for the youth in his hometown of West Memphis, Arkansas. The annual week-long event’s goal is to inspire and motivate the next generation of thinkers, movers, and doers. This was the 6th year that Weems hosted the event, which features a basketball camp, back to school supplies and backpack giveaway and community cleanup. Weems has traveled the world pursuing his dream of playing professional basketball and desires to help others to achieve their dreams as well.
“These kids need this. There are a lot more things to do than just running around in the streets,” said Weems.
The 2018 Weems Week, held July 30 to August 3, was met with much success and a stellar turnout. Weems Week kicked off with a community cleanup at the Sonny Weems Basketball Park in West Memphis, Arkansas. The city of West Memphis dedicated the outdoor basketball court and park to Weems in 2015 to show appreciation for his commitment to the community. From the community cleanup, Weems hosted a basketball camp at the Lehr Arena on the Academies of West Memphis campus, formerly known as West Memphis High School. The camp focused on 7th grade male athletes and helped to foster creativity, greater motor skill function and daily life advice for all attendees.
Weems Week concluded with a back to school backpack giveaway. The supplies from the backpack giveaway are one of the many highlights of the camp. It allows students that are underprivileged to have access to much needed school supplies for their return to school in the fall.
Weems’s legacy continues to grow and the work that he continues to do is helping to champion the next generation of great leaders both on and off the court.
“To inspire and to motivate” are the principles that Weems Week was founded on.
“This is my way to give back to the youth in my community. Growing up in the inner city, I was not afforded the same opportunity as many other children at the time and so I desire to build something positive that can change the lives of children in the future,” said Weems.
Weems plans to expand Weems Week to serve more students across the country. Plans for Weems Week 2019 are underway and will be finalized by early January.
As Weems continues to give back, he serves as a light on and off the court for the many aspiring basketball players to come.
“It’s not the gift that God gives someone that we should be in awe of, rather it is what a person does for his fellow man with the gift that is given,” said Weems.
For more on Sonny Weems, visit SonnyWeems13.com. follow him on social media via:
Walter James Lovett II is an author, podcaster and digital journalist that hails from West Palm Beach Florida. In 2009, he launched WITIN RADIO, a weekly podcast focusing on lifestyle, faith, film, food, sports and pop culture. This fall, Lovett will release a new comic book series and screenplay entitled “The Watcher,” based on the sex trafficking industry and sex addiction in the American Mid-South.
The Virtual United Negro College Fund Tour Heads to NY, DC & NJ on Fri & Sat-Nov. 20 & 21 (EUR EXCLUSIVE!)
*African American students interested in going to college can attend the United Negro College Fund’s (UNCF) Fall 2020 virtual Empower Me Tour. Set for this Friday and Saturday (November 20 & 21, 2020), New York, District of Columbia, and New Jersey will be repped. (This year’s tour kicked off earlier this month in Wisconsin and Illinois). To register, go here.
The Empower Me Tour is an extension of the goals of the UNCF. Founded in 1944, the UNCF, a non-profit, has raised more than $5 billion and helped more than 500,000 students attend 37 private historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs).
The EUR caught up with Stacey Lee, the tour’s director for four years, who discussed the importance of the event.
“The UNCF is the nation’s largest provider of education support to minority students,” said Lee. “The Empowerment Tour has been executed for the past 12 years and last year along we offered over $12 million dollars in scholarships.”
Lee continued, “I think the great thing is that during these times, even with COVID-19, is that a number of corporations (Wells Fargo/P&/FedEx/Disney/Goldman Sachs) and donors have really been providing opportunity and financial access to our schools and students.”
The tour is packed with information and resources so that students and parents have the right tools to make informed decisions.
“It’s a free event that provides educational support, scholarships, interviews with colleges, empowerment, and information on how to get to and through college. We also provide this information for parents as well. We have a parent section that focuses on financial aid and the things you need to get your students to college.”
Lee continued, “Sometimes we have students that don’t realize that they can attend college. They can receive scholarships. Some of them don’t even know what an HBCU is. So, it’s inspirational for me to see these students receive this information and the excitement that’s around this tour.”
In addition to college information, panel sessions on issues affecting the community will also take place. Legendary rapper Bun B will be part of a special My Black Is Beautiful panel. The panel will have discussions with girls and boys and the MC will lead the male portion.
“It’s about empowerment,” Bun B told the EUR. “It’s vital for us to lift each other up and amplify each other’s voices. We just talk about now what that role is in this COVID world. And with everything that we are seeing with young Black men on television, we want to keep them motivated and centered. We want to make sure that they are not discouraged in this moment.”
Ever since Kamala Harris threw her hat into the presidential race and elected vice president of the United States, a spotlight has shined on the fact that she’s an HBCU grad (Howard University) and member of the African American sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha. These facts are not lost on the UNCF.
“Kamala has really boosted people’s awareness about HBCUs and (African American sororities) and the type of people that come out of HBCUs. HBCUS have also provided so many people from science, mathematics, and engineering programs (STEM).”
Bun B added, “We have more than enough examples to show you how beneficial an education from an HBCU can be. So, there is no reason to not be a part of an HBCU because the world is just as available to you as it is for anyone else attending any other type of university.”
New Music Buzz: Jazzy Rita Shelby’s ‘Goodbye 2020’
*SB Music presents “Goodbye 2020” a new single for the times we are in.
“Goodbye 2020” is performed by Jazzy Rita Shelby and written by Miss Shelby (ASCAP) and Eddie Lawrence Miller (BMI).
It’s the perfect anthem to end a year that has impacted the globe.
EURweb’s Jazzy Rita is also a prolific lyricist who has teamed up with Eddie Miller for “Goodbye 2020” because it was timely and convenient for the birth of a song such as this.
Eddie Miller is a coveted keyboardist & vocalist who performs regularly with Brian Culbertson and he’s the Rhodes Festival musical director. Jazzy Rita rose to notoriety as host & performer at The Starlight Jazz Serenade, an annual benefit concert in North Hollywood with an A list of stars. As a teen Miss Shelby was inspired to write songs by the legendary David Porter.
This year has been a year like no other. “Goodbye 2020” is an ode to the world for the year that we have seen and the hope that lies ahead. Radio Programmers click here for adds.
“Goodbye 2020” is released on the SB Music label and was recorded at Wishing Wells Studio in Canoga Park, CA. Willie Daniels and Mildred Black perform background vocals along with Jazzy Rita. The video is produced & directed by Jazzy Rita (LaRita Shelby), filmed & edited by Reggie Simon of Simon Vision Media, with wardrobe styling by Jazzy Rita and Poet Roni Girl’s Army Couture. “Goodbye 2020” is available on most digital platforms. Click here to listen on Spotify.
Celebrate Halloween with ‘Spell’ Starring Omari Hardwick, Loretta Devine and John Beasley / WATCH
*Today/TONIGHT is Halloween and what could be a more perfect way to celebrate than with the release of SPELL? Enjoy the clips below to get you in the spooky spirit!
Omari Hardwick (“Power,” Sorry to Bother You), Loretta Devine (“Black-ish,” Crash) and John Beasley (The Sum of All Fears, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks) star in the terrifying thriller SPELL, coming to Premium Video-On-Demand and Digital today October 30 from Paramount Home Entertainment.
While flying to his father’s funeral in rural Appalachia, an intense storm causes Marquis (Omari Hardwick) to lose control of the plane carrying him and his family. He awakens wounded, alone and trapped in Ms. Eloise’s (Loretta Devine) attic, who claims she can nurse him back to health with the Boogity, a Hoodoo figure she has made from his blood and skin. Unable to call for help, Marquis desperately tries to outwit and break free from her dark magic and save his family from a sinister ritual before the rise of the blood moon.
DIRECTED BY | Mark Tonderai
SCREENPLAY BY | Kurt Wimmer
STARRING | Omari Hardwick, Loretta Devine, John Beasley
AVAILABLE ON DIGITAL PLATFORMS | Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, DirecTV, VUDU, Xfinity, FandangoNOW and more.
Rating | R – violence, disturbing/bloody images, and language
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