Two sons of the city, one a music mogul and the other a professional basketball coach, are using their influence to infuse hope in the youth of New Orleans.
The two have joined together to form Team H.O.P.E. , an acronym for “Helping Our Players Excel.” But instead of Pack and Master P coaching this team about the game of basketball, they’ll instead focus on the game of life. “We identify with them,” Pack said. “The tough times, the bumpy roads, we went through them. It wasn’t easy. But we made it and we want to show them there is an opportunity for them as well.” Pack is hoping that the same success he had at Lawless High and that Miller had while attending Booker T. Washington and Warren Easton spreads to the members of Team H.O.P.E.
“We know some of these kids have that drive and that same competitive spirit and want-to, and we want to give them a platform, opportunities and energies to lead them to that success,” Pack said. “P and I both came up in New Orleans, and we had to grind through this city to get the opportunities that we got, and we took advantage of them.” Pack and Miller say they didn’t have a program like Team H.O.P.E. when they were growing up in New Orleans. So they felt they should start something that will expose the kids to things they normally wouldn’t get a chance to see.
“Don’t be afraid to chase your dreams and goals,” Miller said. “It’s not about where you’re at, it’s about where you’re going to go. Don’t be afraid to say no to negative things. That’s why we’re here right now. We weren’t afraid. We had a lot of people who we thought were on our team who are probably dead or in prison. But we decided to do the right thing. Don’t be afraid to do the right thing.” The program is ongoing. Pack and Miller will monitor the youth throughout their high school years. Eventually, Miller said, they would like to have a building for the kids. The program will have frequent activities for the youth, exposing them to different professions to help them reach whatever dreams they may have.
“This means everything to us because we come from here,” Miller said. “Everybody told us we couldn’t make it, and we excelled.” Now they are hoping the same for these kids who remind them so much of themselves. Pack and Miller were once where they were, growing up in a city in which many youth don’t make it to the age of 25. They hope the program, like its name, gives the kids hope, while at the same time broadening their horizons.
“We got a chance to see the world,” Pack and P said. “That’s what we want for the kids in team hope nola.”