Davidson’s Kellan Grady launches social justice initiative

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Sophia Theresa Williams was only 18 years old when, in 1956, she led the Women’s March in Pretoria, South Africa, a protest 20,000 strong against the extension of the country’s pass laws, a passport system that helped enforce Apartheid’s segregation. That was just the beginning of a life-long role as a leader in South Africa’s liberation movement.

Three years after the Women’s March, Sophia married Henry Benny Nato De Bruyn, another activist in the movement and an uMkhonto we Sizwe soldier, making him a member of the African National Congress. The ANC is the political party that was co-founded by Nelson Mandela. In 1963, De Bruyn was forced into exile in Zambia. Six years later, Sophia Williams-De Bruyn joined him, where they lived for more than two decades with their three children, until the ban on the ANC in South Africa was lifted.

Kellan Grady has only visited the site of his Grandmother’s historic march once, back when he was eight years old. He’s a born-and-raised Bostonian. His mother, one of the family’s three children, moved to the United States when she was in her 20s. He didn’t really grasp what she had done until he was in high school. He didn’t truly appreciate what she put on the line until he got to Davidson.

And now, after the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbary have propelled the Black Lives Matter movement and the push for racial justice in the United States to the forefront of the national consciousness, Grady found himself driven to create change of his own.

“Social justice has always been a part of my core with what my mom and her parents did to fight for black equality and against Apartheid,” Grady said.

The by-product of that drive?


College Athletes for Respect and Equality.

With the help of the Maimonides Institute for Medicine, Ethics and the Holocaust (MIMEH) and Dr. Stacy Gallin, Grady launched his social justice initiative this week. The big picture goal of CARE is “to raise awareness about racial injustice and to promote and create change in equality,” Grady says. Specifically, however, he will be focusing his efforts on reaching and educating the younger generation.

“Our first call to action is community outreach with elementary schools,” Grady said. “And the first step is to get with athletes and get them involved and on board.”

Grady fully understands the profile and the influence that star athletes have on the collegiate level. He’s a rising senior for Davidson — one of the better programs in the Atlantic 10 and Stephen Curry’s alma mater — where he has averaged at least 17 points in all three seasons in college. He has a real chance to play in the NBA one day. Until then, he will be a star on a local level, and he knows that right now, that is where he can have the biggest impact.

“I remember how much I looked up to college players at a younger age,” he said, and that’s what he wants to build on.

Sophia Williams De Bruyn in front of the State Union Building, Pretoria (Adrian Stern via Getty Images)

What he’s looking to do is get other athletes, no matter the sport, race or gender, to join him in visiting local elementary schools. He, with the help of Gallin, will develop age-appropriate mini-curriculums that these athletes will present at the schools, lessons on the history of inequality and racial injustice, themes as simple as teaching the Golden Rule — treat others the way you would like to be treated — in the context of race.

“College athletes have a platform,” Grady said. “People pay attention to us, and a lot of us are minorities.”

Of course, these events would also include some kind of athletic activity. As anyone with kids that age can attest, holding their attention with any kind of lesson plan for too long is never going to work all that well. Using those lessons as the price to play with a local star, however, is a trade that has some potential.

So what is Grady doing now?

He’s looking to get college athletes to sign up here and join his initiative. Those that do are asked to post CARE’s logo across their social media with a sign-up link and the hashtag #CareToChange. With school out for the summer, the most important part of this initiative is to let people know that it exists.

There are plenty of college athletes that are feeling what so many around our country are feeling right now: The desire to help enact change without really know how they can go about doing it. This, Grady believes, is the answer.

The motto at the bottom of the South African coat of arms reads Diverse People Unite.

That, at its core, is the goal of CARE.

What does Williams-De Bruyn think of Grady’s initiative?

“I haven’t spoken to her about it yet,” he said with a sheepish chuckle. “She reached out to the family group chat on Whats App. I should call her.”

Yes, Kellan.

You probably should.

There aren’t many people in the world with more knowledge on impactful social activism than your Grandmother.

Kentucky’s Tionna Herron recovering from open-heart surgery

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LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky coach Kyra Elzy says freshman Tionna Herron is recovering from open-heart surgery to correct a structural abnormality.

The 6-foot-4 post player learned of her condition after arriving at school in June and received other opinions before surgery was recommended. Senior trainer Courtney Jones said in a release that Herron underwent surgery Aug. 24 at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston and is recovering at home in DeSoto, Texas.

Elzy said Herron “is the definition of a warrior” and all are grateful to be on the other side of the player’s surgery. Herron is expected back on campus early next month and will continue rehabilitation until she’s cleared to return to normal activity.

“Her will and determination to eventually return to the court is inspiring, and it’s that `game-on’ attitude that is what makes her such a perfect fit in our program,” Elzy said in a release. “We are so thrilled for Tionna’s return to our locker room; it’s not the same without our full team together.”

Herron committed to Kentucky during last fall’s early signing period, rated as a four-star prospect and a top-70 player in last year’s class. Kentucky won last year’s Southeastern Conference Tournament and reached the NCAA Tournament’s first round.

Emoni Bates charged with 2 felonies

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SUPERIOR TOWNSHIP, Mich — Emoni Bates, a former basketball prodigy who transferred to Eastern Michigan from Memphis, was charged with two felonies after police found a gun in a car during a traffic stop.

The 18-year-old Bates failed to stop at an intersection Sunday night and a search turned up the weapon, said Derrick Jackson, a spokesman for the Washtenaw County sheriff’s office.

Defense attorney Steve Haney told The Associated Press that the vehicle and the gun didn’t belong to Bates.

“I hope people can reserve judgment and understand there’s a presumption of innocence,” Haney said. “This was not his vehicle. This was not his gun. … We’re still gathering facts, too.”

Bates was charged with carrying a concealed weapon and altering identification marks on a firearm. He was released after his lawyer entered a not guilty plea. Bates’ next court hearing is Oct. 6.

“This is his first brush with the law,” Haney said in court. “He poses no threat or risk to society.”

Less than a month ago, the 6-foot-9 Bates transferred to Eastern Michigan to play for his hometown Eagles. Bates averaged nearly 10 points a game last season as a freshman at Memphis, where he enrolled after reclassifying to skip a year of high school and join the class of 2021.

“We are aware of a situation involving one of our student athletes,” EMU spokesman Greg Steiner said. “We are working to gather more details and will have further comment when more information is available.”

Bates was the first sophomore to win the Gatorade national player of the year award in high school basketball in 2020, beating out Cade Cunningham and Evan Mobley. Detroit drafted Cunningham No. 1 overall last year, two spots before Cleveland took Mobley in the 2021 NBA draft.

Bates committed to playing for Tom Izzo at Michigan State two years ago, later de-committed and signed with Memphis. Bates played in 18 games for the Tigers, who finished 22-11 under Penny Hardaway. Bates missed much of the season with a back injury before appearing in Memphis’ two NCAA Tournament games.

In 2019, as a high school freshman, the slender and skilled guard led Ypsilanti Lincoln to a state title and was named Michigan’s Division 1 Player of the Year by The Associated Press. His sophomore season was cut short by the pandemic and he attended Ypsi Prep Academy as a junior, his final year of high school.

UConn to pay Kevin Ollie another $3.9 million over firing

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STORRS, Conn. — UConn announced Thursday it has agreed to pay former men’s basketball coach Kevin Ollie another $3.9 million to settle discrimination claims surrounding his 2018 firing.

The money is in addition to the more than $11.1 million in back salary Ollie has already been paid after an arbitrator ruled in January that he was improperly fired under the school’s agreement with its professor’s union.

“I am grateful that we were able to reach agreement,” Ollie said in a statement Thursday. “My time at UConn as a student-athlete and coach is something I will always cherish. I am pleased that this matter is now fully and finally resolved.”

Ollie, a former UConn point guard who guided the Huskies to a 127-79 record and the 2014 national championship in six seasons as head coach, was let go after two losing seasons. UConn also stopped paying him under his contract, citing numerous NCAA violations in terminating the deal.

In 2019, the NCAA placed UConn on probation for two years and Ollie was sanctioned individually for violations, which the NCAA found occurred between 2013 and 2018. Ollie’s attorneys, Jacques Parenteau and William Madsen, accused UConn of making false claims to the NCAA for the purpose of firing Ollie “with cause.”

The school had argued that Ollie’s transgressions were serious and that his individual contract superseded those union protections.

Ollie’s lawyers had argued that white coaches, including Hall-of-Famers Jim Calhoun and women’s coach Geno Auriemma, had also committed NCAA violations, without being fired, and indicated they were planning to file a federal civil rights lawsuit.

The school and Ollie said in a joint statement Thursday they were settling “to avoid further costly and protracted litigation.”

Both sides declined to comment further.

Ollie, who faced three years of restrictions from the NCAA on becoming a college basketball coach again, is currently coaching for Overtime Elite, a league that prepares top prospects who are not attending college for the pros.

Dream’s McDonald returning to Arizona to coach under Barnes

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TUCSON, Ariz. — Atlanta Dream guard Aari McDonald is returning to Arizona to work under coach Adia Barnes.

The school announced that McDonald will serve as director of recruiting operations while continuing to fulfill her WNBA commitments. She will oversee all recruiting logistics, assist with on-campus visits, manage recruit information and social media content at Arizona.

McDonald was one of the best players in Arizona history after transferring from Washington as a sophomore. She was an All-American and the Pac-12 player of the year in 2020-21, leading the Wildcats to the national championship game, which they lost to Stanford.

McDonald broke Barnes’ single-season scoring record and had the highest career scoring average in school history before being selected by the Dream with the third overall pick of the 2021 WNBA draft.

South Carolina, Staley cancel BYU games over racial incident

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COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina and women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley have canceled a home-and-home series with BYU over a recent racial incident where a Cougars fan yelled slurs at a Duke volleyball player.

The Gamecocks were scheduled to start the season at home against BYU on Nov. 7, then play at the Utah campus during the 2023-24 season.

But Staley cited BYU’s home volleyball match last month as reason for calling off the series.

“As a head coach, my job is to do what’s best for my players and staff,” Staley said in a statement released by South Carolina on Friday. “The incident at BYU has led me to reevaluate our home-and-home, and I don’t feel that this is the right time for us to engage in this series.”

Duke sophomore Rachel Richardson, a Black member of the school’s volleyball team, said she heard racial slurs from the stands during the match.

BYU apologized for the incident and Richardson said the school’s volleyball players reached out to her in support.

South Carolina said it was searching for another home opponent to start the season.

Gamecocks athletic director Ray Tanner spoke with Staley about the series and supported the decision to call off the games.