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Minneapolis native teaches kids basketball skills, life lessons at free summer camps

Ibrahim Oduniyi started Hard in the Paint Hoops in 2015, and the community program continues to grow.

MINNEAPOLIS — Ibrahim Oduniyi grew up playing basketball. The south Minneapolis native played on the varsity team at South High School, playing the game into college and beyond. As he grew older, Oduniyi knew he wanted to give back.

He started coaching at summer basketball camps in 2004 alongside his outreach work with the Minneapolis Youth Coordinating Board. In 2015, he decided to combine the passions for outreach and basketball, founding a free basketball camp called Hard in the Paint Hoops.

"It’s a saying that we have – you go hard in the paint," Oduniyi said. "Everything you do, you want to go hard. You want to give your all."

Oduniyi gave his all to the basketball camps, growing them each year. Now, they're offered about three times each summer for both boys and girls, ages 10-17. Lunch is provided, and kids of all skill levels are welcome.

"They get to come in a space where they’re safe, because everybody isn’t a basketball player, but everybody is welcome," he said. "All the youth are welcome, and they don’t pay anything to come here."

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Oduniyi says often, what happens on the courts at Peavey Field Park at these camps goes beyond just learning the skills of the game. It gives him an opportunity to have open conversations with youth.

"We’re in the area. There’s a lot of things that go on in [the south side of Minneapolis], and we’re able to move with it in real time," he said. "These kids are able to get the tutelage from us, as well as grow themselves, and it snowballs into something where these kids are doing things that are greater than they could ever imagine."

Hard in the Paint Hoops is donor-funded, and organizers are still accepting donations.

Registration remains open for the July camp, which runs July 27-30. You can register at this link. Interested applicants can also email here.

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