It's true — not all heroes wear capes!
And one of those heroes is named LaVonte Stewart.
He founded Lost Boyz Inc., a non-profit organization on the South Side of Chicago (yep, hometown of former first lady Michelle Obama!) focused on violence prevention through organized baseball.
"Gangs and violence became a way of life for a younger generation, and it has plagued the community for the last 20 to 30 years," says LaVonte. "They're very accustomed to violence — they're inundated with it on a daily basis. You can go in a classroom anywhere on the South Side of Chicago, and ask kids how many people know someone who's been shot. And probably every hand in the classroom is going to go up."
LaVonte said that for a short while, even he had "succumbed" to that life, because he was a smart kid and picked on for it, and wanted to defend himself. He just wanted to "fit in," which lead him to join a gang, and ultimately landed him in prison in Missouri for a gun offense.
But, he says, there's a silver lining! Prison gave him the time to reflect on his life, and dream up this organization where the children of the community could thrive.
And create it he did! Now boys — and girls! — learn how to swing under LaVonte's tutelage, which keeps them in the gym and out of trouble.
Well, we — and our friends at the Dick’s Sporting Goods Foundation — were so inspired that we wanted to help out, which is why Dick's donated a $15,000 Sports Matter grant! Incredible, right?
Three cheers for LaVonte and all the boys and girls!