Players from NY based AAU team honored at the White House for gun violence awareness

Players from NY based AAU team honored at the White House for gun violence awareness

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Players from NY based AAU team honored at the White House for gun violence awareness

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NY RENS players were honored at the White House. (Photo: NY RENS)

NY RENS players were honored at the White House. (Photo: NY RENS)

Hamidou Diallo is used to dominating other elite high school players on the Nike EYBL, so, initially, knocking down threes and throwing down dunks on President Barack Obama’s court at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue on June 2 took some getting used to.

“It was crazy playing on the goal that President Obama plays on,” Diallo said. “Even though he wasn’t there, he was out of town at the time, it was cool to get buckets at his place.”

Diallo and members of the NY RENS program were honored at the White House on National Gun Violence Awareness Day for their “Wear the Orange Emblem” campaign denouncing the inner city epidemic of gun violence.

RELATED: Diallo dunks on White House basketball court, coach jokingly calls out Obama

Since the RENS started their campaign last August more than 300 teams and more than 10,000 players across the country have joined in.

“It was absolutely an incredible experience,” NY RENS coach Andy Borman said of visiting the White House. “Last year we had a couple of players that were affected by gun violence and that prompted us to start the movement. We put an orange patch on every single RENS uniform; orange is the color for gun violence awareness. It’s really taken off.”

Diallo said growing up in a neighborhood with “regular” gun violence made him want to raise awareness for younger kids.

“I’ve seen a lot and I just don’t want young people get steered the wrong way,” Diallo said. “So whatever I can do to help get the word out, I’m gonna do it.”

The players met with Elisabeth Evans, associate director for health and health care in the Office of Public Engagement, and had a candid conversation about gun violence and how it affects the communities that they live in.

“We had two kids from Mount Vernon, a kid from the Bronx, a kid from Brooklyn, a kid from Manhattan and a kid from Queens and the dialogue was incredible,” Borman said. “Just to sit there and be awed by our kids and how passionate they were about this topic was something that I’ll never forget. She took detailed notes on what the kids had to say and said, with sincerity, that she’d relay them to President Obama when he got back. That was pretty exciting.”

After the chat the players laced ‘em up against members of the White House staff; not exactly the five-star prospects they see on a regular basis on the EYBL.

“Of course we won,” Diallo said with a laugh. “Of course I was getting buckets. I was a little disappointed that I couldn’t give President Obama buckets, but we went over there for a great cause so that’s all that mattered.”

Borman agreed on the bottom line.

“Our movement is all about our kids,” Borman said. “We’re not saying anything about anyone’s rights or anything like that; we’re simply saying keep the guns away from our kids. Our kids the right to make it to adulthood.”

Follow Jason Jordan on Twitter: @JayJayUSATODAY

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