FRAMINGHAM – Four years ago, Ronald Taylor was looking for a way to give back to his hometown.
The self-described “career criminal” said there was no place for kids to have a pick-up basketball game.
“I wanted to give back to the community. Danforth (building) has closed,” said Taylor. Neighborhood kids played basketball and participated in the Police Athletic League’s boxing program. With the municipal government closing down the building, the programs lost their home.
So Taylor created the Pride & Unity Basketball Tournament at Mary Dennison Park. Sunday, August 11, starting at 10 a.m. will be the 4th Annual Pride & Unity tournament.
The first year, about 60-75 kids participated, said Taylor.
Last year, there were more than 120 kids.
Taylor grew up in Dorchester, and moved to Framingham in 1993. Three years later his mom passed away.
Life spiraled for Taylor, who spent time in Boston and Framingham after his mom’s death. He joined a gang. Was arrested several times. Spent time in jail.
But he has turned his life around.
After he got out of prison, a childhood friend helped Taylor get a job at MetroWest Medical Center.
“She gave me a chance,” said Taylor.
Now Taylor, who grew up in the projects in Boston and in the worst section of Framingham, is giving back to the youth of the City of Framingham.
“I was a good kid, but circumstances and choices changed that,” said Taylor. “I am hoping that I can help change circumstances for these kids in Framingham. Sports is a way to get kids to think about their choices.”
“The things I went through gives me hope,” said Taylor. “I want to give hope to these kids.”
Taylor, who recently found out he is bi-polar, said he can see how the manic phases contributed to his problems.
When Taylor was 9, he lost his sister in a drowning incident. Other life experiences, eventually led him to selling drugs, gang activity. and more criminal activity.
“I take full responsibility for my actions, but if one kid can take different actions after learning about my life,” said Taylor, “then I’m making a difference.”
Kids involved in sports, typically are not involved with drugs.
“Basketball gives these kids something to do. There is not much for these kids in their neighborhood,” said Taylor.
Taylor wants the Unity & Pride event to give kids in Framingham options, and help them learn about positive choices.
“I want the kids to know everybody has a story. Believe in yourself. Don’t be scared to ask for help. It’s okay to make mistakes. It’s okay to talk about mental health. Don’t be afraid to ask for help,” said Taylor.
Volunteers and donations are still needed for Pride & Unity Sunday.
“I grew up hustling,” said Taylor.”Today, I’m still hustling. But I am giving back to the community. I’m hustling for the better.”