After a 2-year COVID hiatus, The Young Lions Youth Organization has scheduled the return of their annual Basketball Camp – a staple of their mission for nearly 20 years. 

Scheduled for Saturday, April 8th from 8 am – 3 pm, the popular event takes place at the Bob Martinez Gymnasium at 400 North Boulevard on the campus of the University of Tampa.   

A total of 375 low-income kids from Tampa’s inner-city neighborhoods will gather for a day of fellowship, exercise and reflection.

The schedule:

Saturday, April 8th

  • Cheerleading
  • Life Skills
  • Basketball Skills
  • Bad Decisions
  • Self-Care

It’s Not Just About Basketball

Gathering the kids for the Basketball Camp creates a great opportunity to offer much more than just a day of fun on the courts.

Coach Dexter Bryant, the Executive Director of The Young Lions, has coached youth basketball for more than 30 years, making local sports history by bringing both his men’s and women’s teams to championship victories in the 1994 Riverfront Summer Basketball season.

Like many athletes and child advocates, Bryant has watched with concern as youth sports participation has dwindled over the past decade. “Kids should not spend their free time sitting in front of computers, tablets, or phones,” he says. “There is no substitute for real life. Youth sports is especially vital for low-income kids whose families do not have the resources to offer them a wide range of enriching activities. That’s why the Young Lions Youth Organization steps in and makes our annual Basketball Camp free.”

The Young Lions keeps abreast of research demonstrating the benefits of youth sports, advocating for increased access and opportunities for low-income youth

It Encourages Physical Activity.

While everyone knows that kids will spend a certain amount of “screen time” every day, offering them the opportunity to participate in youth sports helps prevent them from adopting a sedentary lifestyle at a young age.

The dramatic increase in youth obesity and diabetes is a tragic consequence of American children’s lack of physical exercise.

It Lowers Youth Crime Rates.

Juvenile Delinquency Prevention is at the heart of the Young Lions mission. Lack of supervision is a major factor in the development of delinquent behavior. Without adult guidance, kids can easily fall prey to peer pressure; one stupid mistake can ruin their lives.

Youth sports programs provide adult supervision, accounting for hours of after-school and weekend time that would otherwise be spent under the influence of their peers. Strenuous activity also is helpful in relieving children’s stress, anxiety, and discontent, offering them a positive outlet for their emotions. They are less likely to develop antisocial behaviors when they are a part of a supportive team.

It Creates a Stronger Community.

Participating in youth sports and activities encourages teenagers to take a more active role in their communities. By consistently engaging with other adolescents, they meet and form friendships with players from different schools. By venturing out of their own neighborhoods, they broaden their understanding of their diverse communities.

Many local sports teams hold fundraisers or create events to benefit charities. Volunteering is a valuable way to develop empathy and leadership. Most high schools require students to log a certain number of volunteer hours before graduation; colleges look for sports participation as well as community involvement on applications. Educators know that volunteering enriches teen’s lives in a meaningful way, bringing them close to their communities.

Youth sports games draw diverse audiences from different neighborhoods, bringing families together and exposing them to wider groups of people. Youth sports benefits not only the  players, but also their families, ultimately creating stronger communities.


Basketball Camp would not be possible without help from many people.

The University of Tampa has donated use of the gymnasium since the event began.

Coach Adrian Johnson from Tampa Bay Tech leads the participants in a series of exercise drills.

Tony Conyers, a Professional Powerlifter with World Championship and other titles dating back for decades, is on hand every year to give the kids strength training tips.

Representatives from Abe Brown Ministry lead the Bad Decisions breakout sessions. They share their personal histories and relate stories of their prison time, emphasizing the importance of responsibility and self-discipline.  

Italiano Insurance has been a faithful financial sponsor from the beginning.


The Young Lions is looking for sponsorships for the event

You Can Be Part of the Team

Car Credit is proud to support the work of The Young Lions Youth Organization. Tampa philanthropist, Steve Cuculich, owner of Car Credit, shares Coach Dexter Bryant’s philosophy about the benefits of youth sports. “This is a great way to learn valuable life lessons,” says Cuculich, “Success requires dedication and teamwork – Practice hard, Celebrate the wins, Learn from the losses, and above all Believe in yourself.”