By Ukee Washington
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia is a basketball town. Even in cold weather, you will see kids outside shooting hoops. One man saw them all the time and realized he could up their game.
“I’m in the Southwest Philadelphia area probably half the time,” said Michael Gibson, a process server who drives the Philly streets all hours of the day.
Michael is not just delivering legal documents. He is giving away hundreds of brand-new basketballs, no questions asked.
“When I notice people playing with old, beat-up balls, I decided to give out some brand-new basketballs, and then people started donating basketballs that I could give out to children throughout the city,” he said.
He stopped to drop off a basketball with eighth grader Nasirah Bailey, who said, “Not a lot of people can afford good basketballs or new ones, so it gives them a chance to keep doing what they like.”
Michael showed Eyewitness News anchor Ukee Washington his trunk with basketballs: “These are the tools of my trade.” Michael started giving away basketballs late last year. He calls it The 6th Man Project.
“That’s a great name, and it serves a great purpose, right?” asked Ukee Washington.
“Very simple,” Michael said, “but we always say the 6th man is the one that goes in and changes the game.”
Michael set up a Facebook page. Friends started donating basketballs for Michael to give out. Sometimes the kids even pose for a photo.
“There are times when I drive away and look at the pictures I took and see the kids’ faces, and it really gets you,” Michael said.
Ukee went along for the ride as he went to West Philly. Michael gave new balls to Tymir and Derrick. Michael hopes having new equipment will keep kids on the court, and out of trouble.
In the first three months, Michael distributed more than 150 balls. Supporters have donated a few hundred more.
You can get in touch with Michael through The 6th Man Project Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/mgib1960/