The Riverside Hawks celebrated their 60th anniversary at the iconic Plaza Hotel on Dec. 7. Much more than an accomplished basketball program, the Riverside Hawks offers academic and character development to hundreds of youth across New York City. The elegant event was hosted by CBS News co-anchor and gala honoree Maurice DuBois, and also honored BET CEO Scott Mills, Bank of America Commercial Real Estate Banking Market Executive Maurice Coleman, and NBA champion, entrepreneur, and former Riverside Hawk Metta Sandiford-Artest. Presenting these awards were Citigroup Chief DEI Officer Erika Irish Brown and TIAA CEO Derek Ferguson, among others. Long-time Riverside Hawks coaches Hector Almodóvar and Dermon Player were honored with Coach of the Year and Riverside Hawks Hall of Fame awards, respectively, and Academy Award-winner Spike Lee and producer and entrepreneur Tonya Lewis Lee were the night’s honorary chairs.
Riverside Hawks programming begins in kindergarten, and includes a Summer Leadership Academy, the Saturday Night Lights youth development and violence prevention program, and more. Almost 70 percent of program families come from households in Washington Heights, Harlem and the Bronx, and nearly 80 percent of families are categorized as low- to moderate-income. The Riverside Hawks have granted over $120,000 in high school scholarships over the last two years, and 100 percent of their 2021 graduates went on to college or post-grad prep schools after graduating high school. During the gala, more than $130,000 was raised from donors in the room– adding to the more than $900,000 raised overall.
While sports are being eliminated from so many school programs across the country, BET CEO Scott Mills spoke of the continued importance of athletics in the lives of youth. “Sports are critical because we can learn so much from the activity than simply the activity itself,” he told Life Entertainment. “Sports teach you discipline, perseverance, the importance of practice, the relevance of excellence, teamwork– all of these things that are instrumental in any other path that you have.”
Metta Sandiford-Artest echoed that sentiment. “My dad had me out there having a good time, having fun, but it was hard work going up against him every day,” he said. “It was not easy. Eventually, I just kept pushing and getting better and better.”
Maurice DuBois called the Riverside Hawks a “special organization,” and was more than happy to offer his time to their cause. “You’ve got the community, you’ve got people going to college, you’ve got them changing their lives in a big way,” he explained. His youngest son, James, recently entered the second grade and also joined the Riverside Hawks.
For more information or to donate to the Riverside Hawks, please visit riversidehawks.org.