Good weather, children and families, ice cream, a bounce house and competitive sports were all a part of LL Cool J’s 11th annual “Jump & Ball” charity event in Hollis, Queens.
On Saturday, rapper, entrepreneur, actor and Queens native James Todd Smith, otherwise known as LL Cool J, came to Daniel O’ Connell Park to celebrate his 11th annual charity event which takes place every August and aims to give back to his local community. This athletic five-week summer program allows children to have fun while promoting physical health and wellness and teaching them team building and leadership skills.
With welcome arms, the community gave James amazing love when accepting him back home, and he told TaniaOnTheScene it is always special to be back.
“It always feels good to come home, it always feels good to just be where it all started, you know it’s beautiful,” James said while watching the basketball tournament.
Starting in 2005, James said that this was something he felt the community needed.
“It all started, quite frankly and I know he’s going through a rough phase right now but things happen people make mistakes and at the end of the day he’s still my friend, I went to [former State Sen.] Malcolm Smith and told him what I wanted to do,” James said. “He cut through a lot of red tape, he helped me get through the process and figure it out, really get the ball rolling, all I had to do was basically fund it.”
Ever since then, he explained that he continues to fund the charity event and seek out donations to keep it going, but he gives a lot of the credit to Smith for helping to get this event started. James recognized how much of the community loved the program and acknowledged how beneficial it had been as well, which he told the PRESS of Southeast Queens is only part of his motivation to keep coming out to give back to his community.
“When I was growing up around here, this is something I would’ve wanted, and there was a tournament every now and then, but it wasn’t consistent,” James said describing what his inspiration is to continue to come out to southeast Queens to continue this program. “I always remembered how important that was to the community and how it made us feel. I wasn’t that much of a ball player, but I’m out there hanging out and feeling good and it was a good vibe for the community, it’s uplifting and it instills the right values and it shows them that somebody cares about them and shows that somebody is thinking about us.”
He continued by saying that he just wants the community to be able to have something, even if he has to do something himself.
The program runs every weekend in August at Daniel O’ Connell Park in Hollis and features competitive basketball and double-dutch competitions as well as competitions in chess, tennis, spelling bees and karate. The program also includes special musical performances, back-to-school giveaways and food and beverages. James explained that this is a way for kids to just have a good time without standing on the corners not doing much.
Lastly, James spoke about other charity work that he is a part of, but explained that “Jump & Ball” is his main one.
“I have other things that I’m involved in like my wife has Simone Smith jewelry, some of the proceeds from that go to American Cancer Society, we have the American Heart Association here today, we’re some [things] with CPR, teaching the kids about CPR, but this is my main charitable thing that I do, this is the thing that’s near and dear to my heart,” James said. “The only thing that I would like to do more with this is to add literacy and maybe add a book club to this, so that they’re having fun now maybe we can figure something out with some books. I just have to figure out how to organize it, but this is important.”