Slam-dunk the LOVE

Bayview resident hits the court to spread a message of anti-violence

When Eric Sherman was 17 years old, he never could have imagined that working at Camp White Pine in Toronto would inadvertently change his life. In the summer of 2008, it just so happened that Leave Out Violence sent a group of youths to the camp. It just so happened that the camp needed staff members to assist with the youths’ leadership training. And it just so happens that Sherman has a love for basketball.

These factors spurred Sherman to become involved with Leave Out Violence (LOVE), an organization that uses an inspiring team of youths to communicate messages of non-violence in their communities.

So when he was approached to volunteer for the organization’s second LOVE & Basketball event, he couldn’t say no.

“I think that the basketball avenue for me also helps because I’m, you know, a sports guy, and I can connect with it,” said Sherman, 24. “I have fun doing it as well as it’s rewarding because you see the results.”

The three-on-three basketball tournament requires each player to donate a minimum of $250, though some go above and beyond, according to Sherman. The event raised more than $70,000 last year alone.

And while the basketball court is normally known as a space of competition or rivalry, LOVE transforms it into an area of non-violence, respect, creativity, friendship, problem solving and expression.

Transformation is, after all, a key element to the organization, which encourages participants to become youth leaders themselves after completing the program.

“They do a very good job — Leave Out Violence — of having youth leaders or youths who have gone through the program share their stories and feel comfortable,” said Sherman. “I always find it fascinating to hear a new story.”

These inspiring anecdotes are precisely what keep him interested in continually volunteering.

“When I volunteer for things or help raise money for things, I like to sort of see the results,” said Sherman. “You can see the youths, you can connect to it, and it’s all in your immediate community.”

The event will take place at the Hoop Dome near Downsview Park.

Article exclusive to TRNTO