The game was about to start, but Rasheed Muhammad Sr. couldn't get his son off the court.
Seven-year-old Rasheed Jr. kept dribbling, through his legs, behind his back and around people, even as the taller, older kids around him prepared to start a game. Come here, his father told him, but Rasheed wouldn't. They're about to start the game, Rasheed Sr. repeated, but the kid kept dribbling.
Tyrone "Muggsy" Bogues, one of the greatest basketball players ever to come out of Baltimore, had encouraged the boy earlier to keep working, so young Rasheed wasn't about to stop. The boy caught Bogues' eye with a dizzying display of ball handling. His father often uses Bogues, who at 5 feet 3 inches was the shortest player in NBA history, as motivation.
"For short guys, yeah. You gotta have the heart of a champion," Rasheed Sr. tells his son, who's no more than 4 feet tall. "Look at Muggsy."
All Monday afternoon, the Druid Hill Park basketball courts were abuzz with Baltimore youth for a flag football and basketball tournament. It was exactly the kind of scene Sherron Bogues would have loved to see.
Sherron, Muggsy's sister, died of cancer in July of last year at age 55. To recognize her 32 years of service to the city's Department of Recreation and Parks, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake last year named June 27 "Sherron Bogues Day." Muggsy, 51, who grew up in the Lafayette Courts housing projects and starred at Dunbar, came home to host the basketball tournament in his sister's honor.
"When my sister passed last year, I wanted to keep her legacy alive, and I wanted to make sure that the things that she did in this community, that no one would forget," Bogues said. "She meant a lot to these kids. … It was her passion. She just wanted to make sure the kids had avenues and resources where they could continue to believe in themselves, continue to prosper."
He recalled Sherron, who ran the basketball and football programs for the Recreation and Parks Department, missing family functions and staying for long hours at the office to make sure the programs were as successful as they could be.
The city chose June 27 to honor Sherron Bogues because last year the championship games of the Baltimore Neighborhood Basketball League — one of her biggest projects — fell on that day.
"She understood what it took for us coming out of the inner city of Baltimore, and how important it was to tell someone that you can do it, or you can become whoever you want to become," Bogues said as he wiped away tears. "That rubbed off on me. My big sister meant so much to me, gave me so much, that I still get choked up today as I talk about it."
Baltimore City Recreation and Parks sponsored the event, which drew about 250 people. Under Armour and Shoe City contributed materials such as uniforms.
Rashaan Brave, who worked with Sherron Bogues as the chief of the youth and adult sports division, gave the tournament the motto "Saving Youth Through Athletics," citing a mantra Sherron often repeated.
"She adopted every child that she came in touch with," Brave said, "and she always said, 'My programs are my children.'"
The memory of his sister was fresh in Bogues' mind as he recalled all she provided for the city.
"Dedication, commitment, passion, unselfishness, loyalty," he said. "Someone that will give her shirt off her back to see another person do well. She was fearless. She was very giving. She was very passionate. Loved our family dearly, loved people dearly. And she really loved the kids."
As for Bogues, who still owns a house in Ellicott City, much of his life is still here, including his grandchildren, one of whom played in the basketball tournament Monday. Now an ambassador for the NBA, he arrived in town Sunday and was due to leave today for a league event in Spain.
Bogues lives in Charlotte, N.C. — he played at Wake Forest and spent the majority of his 13-season NBA career with the Charlotte Hornets — but he said Baltimore will always be home.
"Baltimore's my heart," he said. "Wherever I go, I represent Baltimore. This is where it all started. This is what keeps me grounded.
"And I always will call it home, even though I reside other places. Baltimore is a place I can't escape. I wear it on my sleeves everywhere I go."