It was either basketball or the streets.

That's how Richard Forbes describes growing up in his native Far Rockaway.

"There's a saying - ball is life. And, from where I came up in this community, ball is really life. It's hard to get out of here, from Far Rockaway, so basketball is something you can tunnel into," Forbes said.

Forbes says he could have easily gone down the wrong path -- his mom died when he was two and his brother, a victim of gun violence.

He instead channeled his energy into basketball.

Forbes played in college and then came back to his community to coach.

Two years ago he started volunteering as head coach with "Team Crate", a non-profit youth basketball league for players aged eight to 18.

"My brother passing away put me in a depressive state but me coming back to basketball and reaching out to these kids and seeing how much I can give to them, it took me out of that depressive state and pushed me to say you know what? This is what I want to do forever," Forbes said.

Team Crate is made up of more than 100 young players.

They compete in tournaments across the five boroughs.

Kids and their parents don't have to spend a cent to join.

Forbes' only requirement? Maintain a "B" average and show up to practice.

Forbes says he looks at the sport as a pathway to college and hopes his players follow in his footsteps.

Many of these aspiring hoop stars say they do look at the game as an opportunity for new beginnings.

"It takes away all my worries and helps me escape reality. Playing basketball for me was the key to staying out of trouble," said Darius Peterson, a Team Crate player.

That's what inspires Forbes to keep coming back to the court.

"For them to have the drive that they have to want to push themselves to get into the real world, that's my biggest drive and that's what makes me proud of what we do," Forbes said.

So for giving these kids a fair shot at a promising future, Richard Forbes is our New Yorker of the Week.