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Yonkers Icon, Clinton Team To Rebuild Haiti Basketball

YONKERS, N.Y. – Yonkers icon Jim Bostic had a prolific college basketball career, success in the NBA, a coaching career that led two local high schools to multiple championships and helped turn around Iona College's basketball program.

These days, Bostic is looking to turn around another program – in Haiti – and a chance meeting with former President Bill Clinton has given his efforts a boost.

During a recent trip to the poverty-stricken country still reeling from a devastating 2010 earthquake, the former Detroit Pistons player ran into the former president.

“Completely by chance, former President Bill Clinton was staying in the same hotel,” Bostic said. “We got a chance to talk about what we were doing. It was a fruitful meeting and he has vowed to help us.”

Clinton’s Haiti initiative has been front and center for his William J. Clinton Foundation. Clinton, who’s no stranger to sports, was immediately on board.

“His feeling is, building a sports program to create national pride is the right step,” Bostic said.

Bostic’s involvement with Haiti began shortly after the earthquake. He and his Yonkers faith-based coalition made it their mission to help rebuild Christ Army Tabernacle, a Christian academy claimed by the disaster.

“What I found was a country in shambles,” Bostic said of his first trip to Haiti. “I came home and told everyone we had to help.”

Bostic has returned since, and recently was given another mission: revive Haiti’s national basketball program. For four days, from June 25-29, Bostic held basketball clinics at the Quisqueya Christian School, where he taught fundamentals to coaches and players.

“The feeling is, building basketball and soccer programs in Haiti will go a long way in raising hope for the country, as well as provide Haitian athletes with an opportunity,” Bostic said.

Bostic said the Haitian basketball program is about two years away from competing at a national level.

“They’ve got some promising young talent and some great coaches,” he said. “Our goal is to empower them and give them the tools they need to become successful.

Bostic's presence in Haiti was met with both appreciation and resistance. He said some coaches and players were stuck in “their way” of playing basketball. “There were some guys who went on about how they’ve coached and played the game for 20 years. I don’t think they realized that my playing career alone was that long, but, understandably, there was some stubbornness. At one point, I told them to take five of their best players and I picked five of their players. I got on the court myself, and let’s just say it went very badly for them.”

As they say in basketball terms, Bostic took them to school.

“They were asking me for my autograph after that,” Bostic joked. “They realized that it isn’t about the longevity of how long you’ve done something, but you have to be able to continue to learn."

Bostic, along with the Rev. James Hassell of the Kingdom Baptist Church in Yonkers, also were able to raise $3,500 to put 200 Haitian children in a summer camp this year and raised an additional $1,500 to help orphans in Haiti.

For more information about how you can help Bostic’s efforts in Haiti, contact him at the Nepperhan Community Center, (914) 965-0206 or by email ncc_jim@yahoo.com .

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