Park Hill born and raised, local rapper Holy Moe used his MC skills for a good cause Saturday at the Luis R. Lopez Playground.
After playing basketball his whole life, he decided to start a tournament in his neighboorhod, now on its 8th year.
"I initially started it because of the violence that was going on in the neighborhood, specifically between Park Hill and Stapleton,” he said. “My idea was to bring everyone together, maybe for one weekend have everybody just not focus on the violence."
The Holy Moe 8th Annual Basketball Classic invites kids and young adults from all over the borough to compete in teams over a two week period.
Something participants said promotes peace.
"People who have issues in the past, they come together in the tournament and play ball, have fun, watch the games, celebrate,” said Stapleton resident David Flores. “So it's just changing people's attitudes, showing them that there's other things to do besides negative stuff."
"People just like to dislike each other for no reason,” said 14-year-old Rhashad Porter. “But here they get to know each other when they're actually playing basketball."
The teams battle it out to win trophies, MVP awards and even new sports gear, paid for by entry fees.
When the tournament first started in 2009 there were only four teams, and now it has grown to 28. Organizers and players alike hope that it continues to expand even more.
"It's going to be so much more than basketball, maybe a concert on Saturday and something else going on on Saturday and we can expand where if you don't play basketball, other kids who do other things can also enjoy the weekend in the same way that most of us do,” said referee Will Fonseca. “We just want to bring the strong ties of Staten Island together, because sometimes you can feel a little secluded out here."
And those strong ties are what Holy Moe said are being forged, more and more each year.
"I really do feel like it's helping because everybody's here right now having a good time,” he said. “Not worrying about anything, just positive competition."