DENHAM SPRINGS – The ‘Lit Milly Classic’ turns five years old with this weekend’s annual tournament hosted by ISpotUp at three different gyms on the Denham Springs High School campus.
When Tiras Magee thinks of the event’s namesake – his grandmother Mildred Robinson – he can’t help but think how proud she would be of such an endeavor.
“I grew up with the game,” said Magee, an assistant coach with the Denham Springs High varsity and Southside Middle School teams the past five years. “Our family’s a basketball family. From the time I was raised with her until now, that was our thing.”
Magee understood his grandmother’s love for the game, and at the time of her passing five years ago at the age of 82, he chose to honor her memory the best way he knew how.
Magee created ISpotUP to provide an opportunity for local kids to play organized basketball and subsequently put together the two-day tournament with the goal of providing a chance for boys and girls – grades 3-12 – to play in a structured environment against comparable competition.
He knew his grandmother would approve.
“She was a huge basketball fan, she raised me, so we watched a lot of basketball,” he said. “She was the one bringing me back and forth to basketball practice. She was at my games. My love for the game and her love for the game coincided. I said what better way to keep her name alive than to name a tournament in her honor.”
With each passing year, Magee’s noticed one thing -- a steady increase in the number of teams participating. He’s expecting between 30-40 teams that will have a three-game guarantee, beginning with pool play on Saturday at 9 a.m., followed by bracket play on Sunday, where every age group will play in a championship game in the Grady Hornsby Gymnasium.
“A lot of people come back because it’s well run and organized,” he said. “Every game is competitive. Some of these kids don’t make their junior high or high school teams. This is an opportunity for everyone to play and the reward is to play in a game-like situation. They can still come here and live out their dream of playing basketball.”
The opportunity to give back to the community and have a positive influence is of paramount importance to Magee, a 1993 graduate of Denham Springs High, where he was a two-year starter on the basketball team.
That’s where the ISpotUp organization was created, and five years later, has 38 participants.
“We didn’t have AAU or anything like that,” Magee said. “That’s why I’m so passionate about giving these kids an opportunity to play AAU or YBOA. My uncle (Drexel Robinson) talked about the game a lot along with my dad (Richard Robinson). They had a great influence on my career, and I’ve tried to be in place to help these upcoming guys stay on the right track.”
Magee currently serves as coach of ISpotUp’s U9-U10 teams, a group that includes his youngest son Jordan, but vividly recalled one of his finer moments in coaching two years ago during the Lit Milly Classic.
That’s where the seventh-grade boys team Magee was coaching with his son Tiras Jr., won its division in the Lit Milly Classic.
“For my grandmother’s name, it had a significant meaning to it,” Magee said.
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