MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - A Mid-South basketball coach borrowed the title from a popular television show about Memphis crime and turned it into a championship basketball league with the idea of turning something negative into something positive.
The First 48 TV show was a documentary series that lasted 17 seasons. Many of the episodes focused on Memphis detectives solving the city’s homicides. The First 48 basketball league is in its third season now. The focus is on keeping young men off the streets and on the hardwood.
The First 48 on A&E network featured Memphis murders. The First 48 basketball league slays on the court.
“The First 48 is an all-star fall league,” said Gevon Owens, founder and director.
Owens, the director of the Memphis Basketball Association, came up with the concept three years ago.
"You know, everybody is familiar with the show," he said, "so this is really just something to, you know, it's like the opposite. We really want to put a positive spin on it."
The First 48 uniforms incorporate the cop-show theme.
“Every year we have the yellow waistband,” said Owens, “that says ‘do not cross’ on the back, which is like the crime scene tape. This year, we’ve got police cars and flashing lights and yellow crime tape on the front as well.”
The league has 320 players in grades 4-12. They come from all across the Mid-South: Memphis, Marion, Arkansas, North Mississippi and Jackson, Tennessee. They are the best of the best, talented young basketball players staying busy during the lull between the end of the AAU season and the start of school hoops. Owens says the league gives them a chance to stay competitive and it teaches them important life skills.
"There are a lot of young men who don't have father figures," he said, "so myself and my other coaches definitely try to constantly encourage the kids and teach them to do the right thing. We just want to constantly encourage them to make the right decisions."
For those who are curious about the First 48 league, Coach Owens invites you to see them in action. The teams play every Sunday at St. George’s in Collierville from 1:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. You can also find more information here.