It all started with an idea from Court Crandall after watching his 16-year-old son play on a basketball team with some Compton students. Now, it has changed the lives of seven Compton High School students.
Crandall , a partner at the Southern California advertising firm WDCW and Hollywood screenwriter who has the film “Old School” under his belt, organized a free-throw competition for Compton area students with the top prize being a $40,000 scholarship. Nearly 100 applicants applied and eight were selected at random.
Crandall felt that foul shooting was something that could do more than just provide a student with scholarship money for school, he also thought it could possibly bridge a racial divide in the community.
“I thought the free throw is a good metaphor in a world where there’s a bunch of lines that are kind of dividing us,” Crandall told the LA Times. “The focus became, how do we show the world another side of Compton, that’s more positive, beyond the stereotypical guns and crime stuff.”
Even though Crandall opened up his heart for the Compton community, the student who won the competition was the star.
Allan Guei, the winner and star player on Compton High School’s basketball team, donated his $40,000 earnings to the other seven contestants three months after the March competition. Guei, who was already going to Cal-State Northridge on a full scholarship, felt that others could use the money more than he could, even though he could have kept the earnings without violating NCAA rules.
“I’ve already been blessed so much and I know we’re living with a bad economy, so I know this money can really help my classmates,” he said in a release from the school. “It was the right decision.”
Even though Guei turned out to be the hero of this story, it’s ironic as to how the Compton boys basketball team was eliminated from the Southern Section Division 2AA title game last winter. The team lost the game due to poor foul shooting.
The students who competed in the competition, that only required a GPA of 3.0 or above, were filmed throughout the competition in a documentary that is set to be released this fall.
Compton principal Jesse Jones made the surprise announcement of Guei giving the prize money to the other contestants at the school’s June graduation and looks at Guei as a star on the court, as well as off.
“Allan is a great basketball player, but he is a better citizen than a basketball player,” Jones said. “It’s truly a blessing.”