Ex-pro basketball player turns his broken hip tragedy into program that preps kids for life beyond the game

Kemp was inspired to create Beyond The Game 901 after breaking his hip in a car accident in Memphis in July 2020.

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Former Memphis Tigers guard Willie Kemp has launched a program for young athletes to hone their basketball skills while also preparing them for opportunities later in life.

Kemp and his fiancée, Misee Harris, founded Beyond The Game 901, which officially launched earlier this month. As reported by the Memphis Commerical Appeal, former Tigers Jeremy Hunt and Andre Allen, as well as former Wooddale and East Tennessee State standout Tayloe Taylor work with the nonprofit to help foster the next generation of potential professional basketball players. 

NCAA Second Round: Maryland Terrapins v Memphis Tigers
Head Coach John Calipari, Antonio Anderson #5, Robert Dozier #2 and Willie Kemp #1 of the Memphis Tigers on March 21, 2009 during their second-round game against the Maryland Terrapins in the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri. The Tigers defeated the Terrapins 89-70. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

The reception has far exceeded expectations. The company’s official website has crashed twice in the first week, according to the report.

“We’ve been booked solid and it’s been beautiful to see,” said Harris, a Jonesboro, Arkansas-based pediatric dentist who handles marketing and outreach for the nonprofit. 

“We’re in the process of looking for a location to build our own gym,” Harris said.

Kemp was inspired to create Beyond The Game 901 after breaking his hip in a car accident in Memphis in July 2020. At the time, he was in his mid-30s and received the grim news from doctors that he risked serious long-term health implications if he continued playing basketball.

At the time, Kemp, like many athletes when they enter professional sports, didn’t have a post-playing career plan, and that’s how he came up with the idea for Beyond The Game 901. 

“We want to show kids they can do anything,” said Kemp. “But one day that ball is gonna stop bouncing. And we want to make sure they have something — at least a plan — to fall back on when it does.”

Beyond The Game 901 is a year-round effort for girls and boys ages 6 to 18. Kemp and Harris intend to expand beyond basketball by adding more sports and eventually field an AAU program. They also hope Beyond The Game 901 chapters ultimately pop up in other cities.  

“The main part of this is just spending time with the kids, on and off the court,” Kemp said. “For example, we’re gonna take all the kids that come here consistently to Six Flags. We have speakers come in and talk to the kids. We take them out to eat. We took them out to go bowling.

“It’s just making sure everybody is doing well in school,” Kemp continued. “Making sure everything’s going well at home. Making sure they’re listening to their mothers and fathers. We’re really giving this our all. I can’t say the sky is the limit when it’s footprints on the moon. We’re trying to go far.”

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