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"It was Inspirational:" Midnight Basketball League Returns to Milwaukee

Midnight basketball is back in Milwaukee.

The popular late-night league returned to city Wednesday night, part of an effort to keep young men out of trouble. 

     "We need to do more to give them things to do," says Victor Barnett. "I think we have something special here."

Barnett runs the Running Rebels Community Organization, which is partnering with Milwaukee Police, MPS, and a handful of other groups.

The league gives 100 young men between the ages of 18 and 25 a place to make connections, and get resources.

     "Basketball is a great magnet for a lot of people, and it's entertaining and fun," says Barnett. "We use that magnet to attract them to get here, and we're able to offer them things they need to move on and be successful in life." 

The league was a main-stay in Milwaukee in the 80's and 90s, proving to be quite successful.

     "Summer of 1994 was rough in Milwaukee," says Tirrell Carter. "A lot of gang violence, terrible drug activity, just a lot of lost people."

Carter played in the league then, ultimately receiving a scholarship from UW-Whitewater. 

     "In those times, the league was very inspirational for getting us out of the neighborhood and off the block," he says. 

He's volunteering at the new league as a coach, hoping to influence current players like Darius Kelly.

     "In 2012, I was convicted of a felony, and that was a big, big deal," says Kelly. "I didn't know if I wanted to be in college, or if I wanted to be in the streets. I guess the streets showed me that this isn't where you want to be."

He's now holding down a steady job, and hoping the league can lead him to additional opportunities. 

     "We're excited about being able to help them score buckets," says Barnett. "But also about helping them further in life." 

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