“Naturally, we are kings anyway,” says Lysander Davies, coach and founder of the Memphis Kings.
The Memphis Kings started in 1999 and was not originally an AAU program, but rather a mentoring program for at-risk boys ages 7-15 in Davies’ neighborhood and surrounding areas. Davies came from a world where he was led to believe that street life was the only option and his damaging path landed him some time in jail. To make matters worse, Davies’ brother lost his life following that same path. After losing his brother to that lifestyle he was a model for, Davies met with a counselor who originally planted the seed in his head about to use his influence or his following in a more positive way. “She told me to let God use me,” Davies said. Reading motivational books helped a lot as he started this venture in changing lives.
Davies said that he tried everything to hold the boys’ attention. He took them to various outings like the movies and restaurants, but absolutely nothing caught their attention like basketball. “I used basketball as a disciplinary, meaning that if you don’t do your homework, no basketball,” said Davies. The AAU started in 2007 and in 3 short years, it expanded from 8 boys to 5 to 6 teams. Now some of the boys like Trey Davis, Avant Blueitt, Alto Jones, Tyrin Dukes, and Moses Mofana are some of the standout players and are known as the Who’s Who in basketball around the community because of the Memphis Kings.
Over the years, Davies has been known to be the “unconventional coach,” with extreme tactics in training and conditioning. “We are simply more hands on,” explains Davies. He has taught a lot, but he says that he has also learned a lot from his kids. “At-risk kids or kids in need aren’t always the kids from urban areas or the hood,” said Davies. He goes on to say that there are kids from suburban areas that need attention and guidance here with the Memphis Kings that they just can’t find at home. For this reason, The Memphis Kings has created a sort of racial harmony, allowing every young boy to see into the life of another. Davies states that this is crucial for young boys who haven’t had the luxury of going many places or seeing much.
The Memphis Kings has a lot of plans in the near future, including possibly expanding to a girls’ program and reaching out to older kids. MAM (Memphis Athletic Ministries) and Street Ministries are two programs Davies aspires to and admires around the Memphis area for their messages and support. Dec 20th marks the Memphis Kings’ Annual Christmas Drive where 50 children are provided with a Christmas who otherwise wouldn’t have one. Davies concludes this interview saying that kids who need the most love show it in the most unloving way.