Ballin’ like All-Stars: Jackson, local celebrities hoop for charity

Published 11:37 pm Saturday, July 9, 2016

LeToya Luckett isn’t new to coaching celebrities.

“I’ve coached some superstars. Kevin Durant, at one point,” she said.

So, the former co-singer of Beyonce’s in Destiny’s Child knew exactly how to get the NFL Gold team going in Saturday’s Celebrity All-Star Classic at the Carl Parker Center.

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“Defensively, we are on it,” she said during halftime, her team trailing the purple-clad NBA All-Stars 38-37 after trailing by double digits earlier. “I think we have a good shot at winning it. I told them they needed to wake up, play defense and not do anything … you know … leave the tricks at home.”

Whatever worked for a while hardly did in the second half. That or the NBA All-Stars, namely Stephen Jackson, lived up to their name.

Two years retired from the league, the 1995 state champion at Lincoln High performed at an All-Star level in helping the purple team defeat the boys in gold 104-101.

“I feel good,” said Jackson, co-star of the daily NBA-themed talk show “The Jump” on ESPN. “I’ve been working out the last seven months because I knew I was going to have the opportunity to come back. I had the opportunity to coach, too. Whenever the opportunity comes, I’m going to be ready for it.”

The big winners, though, will be the benefactors of the Babineaux Family Foundation. Brothers Jonathan and Jordan Babineaux, former football standouts at Lincoln and NFL veterans, organized the game and a comedy show-slash-Tank concert in Beaumont on Friday to raise money for their charity, which supports scholarships and promotes awareness of lupus.

This was the first year for both the concert and the basketball game, and along with it came star power.

Ozen graduate Kendrick Perkins and WNBA legend Tina Thompson did not show up for the game as advertised. They would have played with Jackson on the NBA All-Stars.

But Port Arthur-native rapper Bun B of Underground Kings fame led the team to victory against Luckett and the NFL Gold crew, which included the Babineauxs and Port Arthur Memorial graduate and free-agent NFL cornerback Danny Gorrer. Even comedians Sydney Castillo and Todd Sanderson, who performed Friday, took to the hardwood on opposite teams.

“The most incredible part is that I was able to coordinate these many schedules with all these celebrities,” Jordan Babineaux said. “To me, that’s usually the hardest thing to do because you get so many commitments. Understandably, life happens. For LeToya Luckett and Bun B to put this on their schedule and dedicate their time to come home and come here to Port Arthur and interact with our community,  …. it’s a great event.”

Luckett, wearing a gold jersey numbered 832 (after the Houston area code) as a dress, was ready to help.

“I love Jordan and Jonathan,” she said. “They’re awesome. Anything they’re doing, especially when they’re giving back to their city, I want to be a part of it. I’m from Houston, Texas, and I know how important it is to give back to your neighborhood. I think they’re doing an awesome job with it.  It’s our first year. I plan on coming back for the others. It’s good stuff.”

All that was left, then, was for the game to go down to the wire. One layup for the NFL Gold was worth 10 points, to keep the game close.

Dominique Hardie got those points back for the purple on a basket from three-point range. That was one of four treys he made down the stretch.

Jordan Babineaux, a retired NFL safety, was thrilled that fans young and old could interact with the celebrities Saturday. Kids got to shoot around for a while with the players, while others got to greet the celebs and receive autographs.

“More than anything, the symbolism of togetherness and the camaraderie that you see here, it’s organic,” Jordan Babineaux said. “You can’t script this.”

I.C. Murrell: 721-2435. Twitter: @ICMurrellPANews

About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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