Thursday, July 7, 2011

Erasing Boundaries One Free Throw at a Time

By Kate Korson

The city of Compton, California is synonymous with gangs, guns and crime. Various boundaries define the city by race, ethnicity and socio-economic class. In an attempt to encourage community spirit and unity, screen writer Court Crandall created a basketball free throw competition at Compton High School with a $40,000 college scholarship as the prize. The only requirement for entry was a minimum 3.0 GPA.

Free Throw update from Court Crandall on Vimeo.

Crandall wanted to teach the students that hard work and practice can make the seemingly impossible happen. Little did he know that the community and nation would learn a greater lesson.

Students from a variety of groups were chosen to participate in the competition. Male, female, black, white, latino; there was not a boundary that Crandall did not cross. It was not a surprise that local star basketball player Allan Guei won the competition. With a full-ride athletic scholarship to Cal-State Northridge, Guei could have easily opted to used the prize money for graduate school. Instead he did the seemingly impossible and split the money between the other seven finalists.

Many of us would have taken the money and never looked back. At the end of my high school lacrosse career, I received a community scholarship and a small scholarship from American University to play at the collegiate level. It never once crossed my mind to split my community scholarship between other players on my team or with girls who were not already receiving scholarship money.

Guei taught us more than just the idea of charity. It was the ultimate act of sportsmanship, respect and community spirit. Guei took pride in his classmates and their efforts in the competition. Yes, he was selfless in giving away his prize but he was blind to the racial and ethnic boundaries. In a place like Compton, this little act makes a big statement.

Court Crandall filmed a documentary following the competition from its beginning stages, to be released next year. He has also created a scholarship fund for students in Compton. Visit Free Throw’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

Kate Korson is an Associate Account Executive at Maroon PR. Contact her at

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