After three and a half years behind bars, North Philadelphia basketball legend Rysheed Jordan is rebuilding his reputation on and off the court. Now 25, Jordan, who recently began playing for the Camden Monarchs, shared his story with youth participating in Philadelphia Youth Advocate Programs (YAP), Inc., a community-based alternative to youth incarceration.
Jordan was a Vaux high school basketball star who went on to St. John’s University. He told the YAP participants how after his freshman year, while waiting to try out for the NBA, he played for a while for the Delaware 87ers (now Blue Coats); and then turned to the fast money of the streets. When a drug transaction led to a man getting shot in the arm, Jordan went to prison for attempted murder, robbery, criminal conspiracy and simple assault.
YAP hires neighborhood-based Advocate-mentors who help young people identify their strengths while connecting them and their parents/guardians with tools to help them reach their goals and contribute to their communities. The invitation to Jordan to meet the YAP participants came from Philadelphia YAP Advocate Rodney Veney, who also owns a sports management business and is on the Philly Pride AAU basketball club leadership team.
Three weeks after Jordan’s talk, Veney said the YAP participants are still asking about him. “They look up to him and really related to him,” he said. “After hearing his story, they see that they have to think before they react.”
Jordan had to decline an offer to earn a living playing ball overseas, as he will be on parole and probation for six years. Meantime, he is determined to play and work hard and continue to serve as a role model to youth close to home.