Kids in Trouble = Boys to Men: All in the Family!

Harold BellContributor IIIMay 9, 2011

Cleveland Browns No. 1 pick Phil Taylor (Gwynn Park HS) gets selected.
Cleveland Browns No. 1 pick Phil Taylor (Gwynn Park HS) gets selected.Chris Trotman/Getty Images

Andrew Dyer lll, Antonio Logan-El and Phil Taylor all have something in common, Kids In Trouble, Inc.

The three, as high school area athletes, all reached out to help at-risk children.  They used Kids In Trouble, Inc as their vehicle.    

While they were in high school (Bullis Prep, Friendship Military Academy and Gwynn Park respectively), their parents all sung a similar song, “When you reach out to help others you help yourself.”  

Helping others is the gift that keeps on giving!

The three young men were “Santa’s Helpers.”  They led by example as honor roll students who spoke out against violence at the Kids In Trouble youth violence conferences.

NBA pioneer Spencer Haywood, at one of my conferences at Bible Way Church in DC hosted by NFL legend Jim Brown and Congressman Tom Davis (R-Vir), said, “If a child has to look beyond the dinner table for his or her hero, that child is a Kid In Trouble.”

Andrew, Antonio and Phil never had to look beyond their dinner tables for their heroes because their parents were just a “pass me a biscuit away.”

Andrew’s father, Andrew  Jr. works for the IRS, and he is the host of a popular cable television sports talk show in Prince George's County, Maryland titled “The Round Ball Report.”  He also coaches and referees little league teams and games.

It is a family affair. His mother Darlene works in productions and sales at a local television station.  She volunteers as a producer for his father’s weekly cable television show, and during his early years, he was one of the show’s cameramen.   

Darlene chauffeurs the kids to the games and practices and serves as the head cheerleader.  Andrew lll and Jonathan were outstanding running backs in high school.  Andrew lll attended Morehouse on an academic scholarship and majored in English.

Danielle, their little sister (age nine), may be the best athlete in the family.  They are all outstanding student/athletes with the emphasis on student (honor roll).

Antonio was raised by his grandfather Dr. George Logan-El a former substance abuser who pulled himself up by his bootstraps to become a college professor.  Dr. Logan-El was also a teacher in the Alexandria, Virginia school system where he help found “The Untouchables,” a group of young men who were going to hell in a hurry.   

Phil’s father, known as “Big Phil”, works as a security guard and has been the driving force behind his son’s success on and off the football field.  When young Phil ran into trouble off the field at Penn State and was dismissed from the team, his father was there to encourage him to hang tough and move on.  He made sure his son knew he had his back. 

Phil’s next move was to Baylor University in Texas, and he never looked back.  His father’s advice and encouragement paid off big time on Thursday April 28, 2011 when the NFL’s Cleveland Browns made “Little Phil” their No. 1 overall pick.  He was the first defensive lineman picked No. 1 by Cleveland since 2001. 

Their involvement and presence at the toy parties and youth violence conferences encouraged others to reach back and take the Game Called Life more seriously.  

May 2011 has paid off big dividends for the three young men who refuse to be kids in trouble and become hopefully, “Superstars” in the only game that really counts—the game galled life.

My wife Hattie (former school teacher) and I have learned some valuable lessons through Kids In Trouble. There are few, if any, financial rewards in helping others, but the spiritual rewards are, and have been, unlimited. 

Helping others is truly the gift that keeps on giving. For example, Bobby Garner was a student-athlete at Bell Vocational High School in DC in the late 60s. 

In the summer of 1969, Bobby and several other DC high school All-Stars were invited to Dave Bing’s (now the Mayor of Detroit) basketball camp in the Poconos Mountains in Pennsylvania.  Bing cared long before the NBA.

His performance and Carson Hankins’ at the camp earned both scholarships to Winston-Salem State University to play for my college coach, the legendary Clarence Bighouse Gaines. It would be 40 years later before I would see Bobby again.

I knew he had gone on to play pro football in the NFL, but our paths never crossed again until April 2011 at First Baptist Church of Glen Arden in Prince George's County, Maryland.  

While I was walking toward my seat in church on that particular Sunday, I noticed this young man pointing me out to another young man standing beside him.

I could hear him telling his friend how I had made it possible for him to attend college and his success in life he owed to me.  I thanked him for the compliment and high praise and took my seat.

I was sitting there wondering who the young man was paying me all of this praise.  This happens most of the time when my wife Hattie and I venture out into public. 

We often encounter young people who have participated in our annual Christmas toy party for needy children (42 years and counting).  The young people we have touched by our work in the schools, on the playgrounds, on the streets or in the courthouses of DC are too numerous to count.

They automatically think we remember their names and we walk away wondering who was that.  We then become the biggest losers because we didn’t ask who, where and when?      

On this particular Sunday, the spirit made me get up out of my seat and walk back to ask the young man for his contact information so that we could stay in touch. 

I returned to my seat and looked at the information he had written.  It was then I discovered that he was “The Bobby Garner” I had lost track of after sending him down “Tobacco Road” to play for Bighouse.

I would later found out after his short stint in the NFL ended, he returned home to work for the DC Department of Corrections and the Department of Human Resources.   He recently retired after 33 years of service.

Carson Hankins. the other part of the combo, retired from the Washington DC Metro Transit System several years ago after 30 years of service.  Suddenly, I am feeling old!

Bobby is now a church deacon, and he coordinates and hosts an annual “Christmas in April” project that aids senior citizens in his community.  He has not forgotten!

Two weeks later, I am sitting in Denny’s Restaurant on Benning Road in NE DC having lunch, and a young man walks over to my table.  I recognized him as one of my former student/athletes.  I coached him at Cardozo High school (where I met my wife in 1967).  I had not seen him since he graduated.       

Lemuel Kenley is now the CEO of an Excavation Company and he tells me he is building six apartment units nearby.

An unscheduled trip to the Washington Hospital Center’s emergency room in April also paid dividends.

In the corridor leading to the emergency room, Hattie met one of her former Eastern High School students.  The student was now working in the emergency room.  She quietly walked me through the process in the blink of an eye.  We forgot to get her name.      

Hattie and I have no children of our own, but we often feel like proud parents, thanks to Andrew, Antonio, Phil, Bobby, Lemuel, the emergency room rep and dozens of other young people who have stopped us in church, on the subway, in the malls, on the streets or at the world famous Ben’s Chili Bowl who have said “Thank you.”  Helping others is truly the gift that keeps on giving.

Noteworthy: Congratulations to my little cousin Marcus Harrington and his mother LaWanda. Marcus  graduated from Howard University, where he was member of the school’s football team and an honor student. He is the grandchild of my first and favorite cousin, the late Rowland Gaines.


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