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NYer of the Week: Jasmine Ray Honors Brother, Helps Community Through Handball Tournaments

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This week's New Yorker is giving teens a hand by getting them into the city's favorite neighborhood game: handball. NY1's John Schiumo filed the following report, which was shot, written and edited by Rachel Smith.

Jasmine Ray says she has two full-time jobs: being a mother and getting teens moving.

"This is beyond what I thought it could ever be," she says. "My very first tournament, I maybe had 50 people there, and I did that tournament in memory of my brother."

Jasmine's brother, Jonathan, loved handball. After he died in a car accident a few years ago, she brought her Staten Island neighborhood together for a game in his honor. It was then that she realized how much her fellow New Yorkers love to play.

"I just spread the word, and word of mouth, three years later, it's turned into this," Ray says. "I serve over 2,000 people."

She does it as the president of Wall Ball World, a nonprofit that uses the sport to help teenagers. She organizes free games and tournaments year-round, each with a theme to help out the players.

"Last year, we had a back-to-school tournament where we helped the kids out with school supplies. We gave them backpacks and notebooks and pens and pencils and folders," Ray says. "We had a Christmas tournament. We had a couple of local businesses donate toys for the kids. And then this tournament in particular, it's called 'Prep for Success.'"

On this day, before the handballs started flying, a CUNY representative served up tips for applying to college. It's just one of many ways that Jasmine is helping her players.

Kaitlyn Colon, 13, says that her handball skills come in handy off the court.

"It makes you think on your feet. It makes you strategize faster, you know? It helps you not only develop your game, but develop as you are as a person," Kaitlyn says. "Every time I get frustrated, she's always there, and she's always like, 'Just calm down, keep your head in the game. You still got this. It's not game over yet. You still have this. Don't think about the points. Just do you on the court.'"

So, for changing the game for teenagers, and honoring her brother along the way, Jasmine Ray is the latest New Yorker of the Week.

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