Naomi Bradley writes books to encourage early reading She’s the author of ‘Reading At One’

Former classroom educator and mom Naomi Bradley left the classroom to home-school her children and is now promoting an early-reading process for children.

Bradley, who lives in Atlanta with her husband, Walter, and children Love, Charles, Faith and Hope, began teaching techniques on how to read with her firstborn daughter, Love, when she was 22 months old. Bradley has written a parenting book called Reading At One and also started her own private learning center called Love Bradley Academy in Atlanta.

After the release of Reading at One in 2015, Bradley released The Big Book of Beginner Reading Stories. She designed the book because she noticed there was a lack of reading and literacy-promoting instructional material with black characters. According to Bradley, who has a master’s degree in education, the self-esteem of a child is developed by the age of 3, so it is imperative that students see themselves in their reading materials early in life.

Bradley is also the author of the rhyming bedtime story Goodnight Princess, which has an English and a Spanish version. Her latest book, Aaron Knows About Africa, details historical facts about seven African countries.

All of her titles can be found on WeBuyBlack.com, Amazon and Kindle.

This 9-year-old launched her own line of bath products Jelani Jones has become a pro at running a business while balancing life as a fourth-grader

While most kids are looking forward to relaxing during summer break, 9-year-old Jelani Jones is contemplating ways to grow her business.

As founder of Lani Boo Bath, a line launched last October that specializes in bath bombs and handcrafted moisturizing soaps, Jelani is learning a thing or two about entrepreneurship. According to Fredericksburg.com, the Spotsylvania County, Virginia, native learned how to make bath bombs — a tightly packed mixture of ingredients that fizzes and expels various scents and oils when wet — in school. Jelani had so much fun with the project that she went home to experiment on her own.

With the help of her parents, Jelani purchased the ingredients needed to create the bath bombs and turned the family kitchen into her personal laboratory. After perfecting the blends to her satisfaction, Jelani started by selling her products to friends, family and church members before establishing Etsy and Facebook pages.

Today, Jelani’s Etsy page features 13 brightly colored bath bombs in different scents, as well as two handcrafted soap options. Her products, which start at $4.50, have received five-star reviews on Facebook.

Balancing school and running a business can be tough, but Jelani has been a rock star while learning to master both. The straight-A student not only makes her own products but has also learned to create a business plan, along with budgeting her time and money. Her parents, Crystal and Marcel Jones, help Jelani with some of the heavy lifting, including taking and filling orders and sending invoices.

According to blackbusiness.org, time management is one of Jelani’s keys to success. “I have a schedule so I can fit everything in,” she said.

Her parents both balance busy lifestyles, but they are there for Jelani as she embarks on her entrepreneurial journey. Her dad is an attorney and her mother is a psychotherapist with a private practice in Fredericksburg.

“Jelani is very confident, smart and insightful,” Crystal Jones said. “We want her to recognize that there are no limits to what she can accomplish with God, determination and a supportive village.”

NBA standout Serge Ibaka is a standout single father too ‘To me, to be a father, it’s a dream,’ says the forward as he celebrates his first Father’s Day with his 11-year-old daughter Ranie

The bond between a father and a daughter is unbreakable — even when it’s not one forged at birth. It’s seems like only a minute since NBA forward Serge Ibaka learned he had a daughter. Now, he and 11-year-old Ranie are living in Orlando, Florida, and celebrating their first Father’s Day.

But, Ibaka says, it’s a celebration with a learning curve here in the United States.

On a hot, rainy summer afternoon in his stucco home tucked away in a gated community in Orlando, Ibaka, Ranie and her nanny, Gail Goss, coordinate a day that includes swimming, homework and dinner, where they will discuss their Father’s Day plans.

“I’ve never done Father’s Day before,” Ibaka said. “You know, the funny thing is I never had to spend time on Father’s Day with my daughter, so this is going to be the first time. So, I don’t know what a father does on Father’s Day. When I was young, for me Father’s Day was like one of those days where you wake up in the morning and you say, ‘Hey, Happy Father’s Day!’ to your dad. And then, that’s it. And then he goes to work, and that’s it.

“But here it’s kind of different. You have to be with your kids and then do something. I don’t know what actually I have to do, but I’m just going to learn it. But I’m sure she knows already. She’s going to tell me.”

But Ranie admits to just as much confusion.

“I didn’t know that it was Father’s Day,” Ranie whispered to her dad.

“It’s OK,” Ibaka said. “She didn’t know it was for Father’s Day.”

“I can’t keep on schedule,” Ranie admitted.

NBA free agent Serge Ibabka is going to spend his first Father’s Day with his 11-year-old daughter Ranie.

Preston Mack for The Undefeated

Ibaka said raising Ranie has been the best experience and expression of love for which any person can ask.

“It’s a dream to me, to be a father,” he said. “Since I was young I always dreamed of myself traveling, envisioned at least three, four kids, five. And then, I’m living my dream right now and something I always love to do, and it’s fun. It’s really changed my life. It’s changed everything about me. The way I think and the way I live my life. It changed everything.”

Ranie, a 5-foot-5 fourth-grader, has known of her father since she was 5 years old, but she didn’t get fully acquainted with him until recently. Born in Congo, Ibaka left his family and his home to pursue a basketball career in Europe at the age of 17. But before he left, unbeknownst to him, he’d fathered a child. Ranie’s mother informed Ibaka’s father, Desire, of the news, and he decided to keep it a secret. It was Desire’s thought that Ibaka would not have pursued his basketball career if he knew he had a child back home. So Desire took on a paternal role and helped raise Ranie until it was decided that he come clean.

“I was young when I found out,” Ibaka said. “And I was shocked a little bit because it’s something new. And then I didn’t know what to do, what to say or how to react. And I was like, OK, I’m a dad now. But a couple of days I start feeling better, and like I said, it was something I used to dream about always. I want to have kids, and now I want to have more. So, it’s fun.”

Ibaka said what he looks forward to most in raising Ranie is her education and continuing to be there for her.

“I didn’t really have that opportunity when I was young,” he said. “I put her in a better school. I didn’t have the opportunity, so to me I want to make sure everything I didn’t have, I want her to have that. And it’s just like kind of my challenge. I’m trying myself to be there for her. Make sure even if I’m busy, because my dad was so busy when I was young. I really didn’t have a lot of opportunity to spend with my dad. But it is kind of normal for me now, but I don’t want that to happen with my daughter. And I try to be my best I can to be with her and spend time.”

Ibaka said his decision to move Ranie to the U.S. was difficult for her mother.

“You know, the funny thing is I never had to spend time on Father’s Day with my daughter, so this is going to be the first time. So, I don’t know what a father does on Father’s Day.”

“I had to explain to her, it’s best for our daughter to come here to the United States, where she can have a better education,” Ibaka explained. “The school system is a little better. And she’s going to be close with me and, like I said before, for a daughter, they need a dad. So it was a little harder, and she did not understand, but now everything’s going smoothly.”

French is Ranie’s first language, but it didn’t take her long to learn English, Ibaka said.

“I put her in American school since she was in Congo because I knew that at some point she had to come here. So, I wanted her to be ready when she’d come here.”

Raising a young daughter at a young age as a man does, however, presents a lot of challenges.

“But it’s kind of a good challenge, especially for a man like me,” Ibaka said. “I’m still young and having a little girl, and they just make you see a lot of things differently. The way you do things because you’ve got a daughter, and they really make you a better man. I love that.”

What he would tell his daughter about guys when it’s time to date?

“Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey. Take it easy,” he said with a shy smile. “It’s too early. When the time comes, I’m sure we’re going to sit down. We’re going to talk. But it’s too early. It makes me nervous now. But I know the time is going to come. Everything has a time. And when the time comes, we’re going to sit down. We’re going to talk.”

Ibaka’s journey includes leaving Brazzaville in the Republic of the Congo to become an integral part of the Oklahoma City Thunder after being drafted in the first round by the then-Seattle SuperSonics with the 24th overall pick of the 2008 NBA draft. He went from dazzling with his defensive and offensive skills on the court with the Thunder to a brief stint with the Orlando Magic, and now his most recent stint is with the Toronto Raptors.

Ibaka founded the Serge Ibaka Foundation just after meeting his daughter, with the goal of furthering his humanitarian efforts in Africa. Ibaka desires to inspire children around the world to believe in themselves and in their chances no matter how hard their circumstances are.

With the help of NBA Cares and UNICEF, Ibaka has provided resources and hope for Congo natives in the past few years by bringing basketball, pro athletes, celebrities and charities together through his various philanthropic efforts, to provide support, spread awareness and open a dialogue about the issues and attributes of his homeland. In April, Ibaka was elected to the board of directors of the National Basketball Players Association Foundation.

Ibaka opened up about first setting sight on Ranie in the 2016 documentary Son of the Congo: This is Africa. He said he’s now getting used to being a single father, but it’s not that easy.

Ranie was born in Congo and was raised by his family unbeknownst to him until a few years ago.

Preston Mack for The Undefeated

“I have to spend time with her and make sure because she needs me. I want to be here for her and make sure we spend time together.”

While Ranie is quickly becoming acclimated to her new life, it wasn’t an easy transition.

“It was a little hard in the beginning for myself,” Ibaka said. “And with basketball at the same time, and then with her, she didn’t understand in the beginning because in the NBA we travel a lot. We’re always on the road. So she really didn’t understand, and she had to get used to and understand my daddy’s busy, and that’s how the things go. So, she’s getting better. She understands, and she’s getting used to now.”

Ibaka is the third youngest in a family of 18.

“The oldest, my sister, is 35,” Ibaka said. “It’s good to have a lot of brothers and sisters, you know? You got family. It’s always good to know you got family. That’s enough, because it’s kind of normal where I come from. It’s kind of normal. I always grow up in a family place, a house. That’s why I love kids.”

Ibaka is known for his fashion-forward style, and Ranie is following his lead. Described as equally stylish and one who takes pride in her wardrobe, the two often debate about who is the best dresser in the household.

“Well, she thinks she’s better than me,” Ibaka explained of Ranie’s wardrobe. “She thinks she’s better than me. So we always try to challenge each other, because she knows. But I’m sure she’s watching me all the time, how I dress, and then she kind of picks it up a little bit. So, she loves to dress too.”

Many teen fathers who are also the primary custodian sometimes have fears. But Ibaka said he’s not afraid.

“Well, yeah, I’m a very strict father,” he said. “But I don’t try to do too much. But I make sure I’m strict.”

“I don’t know why, but I’m not really afraid to be a father,” he said. “I try a lot to be a father. And, like I say again, I’m going to try to give her the best education I can. Sometimes we try, we do everything, but it ends up the way we don’t want. But that’s life, you know.

“But at least I know I’m going to try. I’m know I’m going to give my best. I’m going to make sure I’m here for her. Put her in the better position for her to grow up like a sweet little girl. And then everything is not really in my power too. But I just want to make sure, at least I want to tell myself in the next couple of years, you do the best you can.

“Well, yeah, I’m a very strict father,” he said. “But I don’t try to do too much. But I make sure I’m strict. I’m trying to raise my daughter the best way I can, you know? Maybe I didn’t have the opportunity. I didn’t have that chance. But I’m going to give my daughter that.”

Ibaka said he wouldn’t change anything about being a single father.

“So far I think I don’t want to change anything because everything’s going smoothly right now. And then, she’s smart. She’s doing great in school. She’s listening. She respects me. I always tell her, respect people. Thank God everything’s going smoothly.”

Ibaka enlisted the help of Goss, who has experience as a nanny to other Orlando-based NBA players. Goss, a mother of two and minister from Mississippi, has been Ranie’s caregiver for more than one year. She’s known around the league as “Miss Gail.”

Ibaka met Miss Gail when he first moved to Orlando, and she’s been like family ever since.

“I got here, I was looking for a nanny,” he explained. “Someone to take care of my daughter. So, my assistant, he was working on it. And then that’s how we found Miss Gail. And then because I kind of know her story a little bit. She used to work with all those players before, so I was, like, maybe she understands NBA life, how NBA life goes.”

Since Ranie is new to Father’s Day and the culture surrounding the celebration, she’s still figuring out her plans for her famous father.

“I really don’t know,” she said when asked what they were going to do.

On a normal day, they spend time doing various activities.

“We go to the movies. Go to Universal [Studios], swim, play Uno.”

She wants a cellphone, but Ibaka is against it.

“I want to raise her the way I’ve been raised,” he explained. “Like my mom, father, because the new generation is kind of different right now. Everything is going fast. Because I’m kinda person where I never forget where I come from. Even everything I want out of my life, I never want to change the way I think, the way I am. I want to stay the same person. You know, that’s why, and I have the kind of same mentality of raising my daughter too. Because now, everybody having iPhone, everybody having this, everything like that, I have to change the way I think. I would have to change the way I do my thing. You know? I don’t want to that, so that’s how I am.”

Ranie wants to be a doctor and a tennis player but her father said she keeps changing her mind, at first desiring to become a lawyer.

“No, I never wanted to be a lawyer,” Ranie said. “You told me you wanted me to be a lawyer.”

“It’s true love,” Ibaka admitted about fatherhood. “You never go wrong with true love. It’s easy and natural.”

Preston Mack for The Undefeated

A state-of-the-art African-American museum is coming to Charleston, South Carolina The $75 million project will include a resource center for African-American genealogy

There are many unique ways to tell the story of the United States’ rich, cultural African-American history. From the first African slaves to step onto American soil to the complex yet resplendent history of African-Americans today, there are still so many stories that have yet to be told.

It’s part of the reason that businessman Michael Boulware Moore, the great-great-grandson of Robert Smalls, an enslaved African-American who escaped to freedom by commandeering a Confederate supply ship, is hoping to help continue to educate the public by spearheading a project that will bring a $75 million African-American museum to Charleston, South Carolina.

“I’ve got a real deep connection to Charleston, to African-American history, to the project, and so I decided to come on and help lead the museum and help raise the money that we need to break ground and to get it built so it can make the greatest impact it can make,” Moore said.

The International African American Museum, slated to open in late 2020, will feature several exhibits that will walk visitors through West Africa in the 17th century and end with the formation of new African-American communities in the 21st century, according to the website. Inside, exhibits will include digital wall backdrops, large-scale film, imagery and life-sized interactive contemporary figures for visitors to engage.

The museum will also focus on the full scope of African-American history, with an emphasis on South Carolina’s role in colonial American history.

Between 1783 and 1808, approximately 100,000 slaves arriving from across West Africa were transported through Gadsden’s Wharf and other South Carolina ports and sold to the 13 colonies, according to an article in The New York Times. Nearly half of enslaved Africans brought to America came through Charleston, and nearly 80 percent of African-Americans can potentially trace an ancestor who arrived in the city.

“Building the museum in Charleston is that one spot where we can all pilgrimage to, to pay homage to our ancestors, pay respects to the sacrifices that they made and contemplate our own lives based on that context,” Moore said. “It was a place where so much economic vibrancy and growth and innovation came from.”

Moore became the chief executive officer of the International African American Museum in February 2016 after being invited to join the museum’s board by former Charleston mayor Joseph Riley. At the time, the board was looking for executive leadership to help move the project along. Having spent more than two decades as an advertising executive leading major marketing campaigns for brands such as Coca-Cola and Kraft, Moore was a perfect fit for the job.

“On one hand, I’ve been this marketer consulting, working and running companies,” Moore said. “On the other, there’s a side of me that’s been focused on social justice, serving others and African-American history. This is the first opportunity in my life where I’ve been able to leverage all of me in service to a project. It’s a very special opportunity. It’s one that I take really, really seriously because of the impact it potentially can have, and I couldn’t be more thrilled about the team we have around us and what we’re doing.”

There are several features Moore and developers plan to incorporate to enhance the museum experience, including a free smartphone app and beacons in each exhibit that will allow visitors to receive the exhibit’s content through video, text and audio right to their phones.

Moore and his team are also negotiating with officials in Sierra Leone to bring artifacts from the West African nation’s old slave fort, Bunce Island, to the museum.

“We’ve discussed bringing a couple of stones that were at the end of a jetty at Bunce Island,” Moore said. “They used to aggregate the captives there, march them down this stone jetty and onto slave ships. The last two stones, we’re talking about retrieving those, bringing them here and using them as a centerpiece of a memorial for the African ancestors.”

One of the most important aspects of the museum will be its Center for Family History, which, according to Moore, is set to become the leading resource center for African-American genealogy in the country. Partnering with DNA firms, genealogy readings will be able to tell visitors specifically where their African ancestry originated on the continent.

“Someone will walk in like most African-Americans and not know a whole lot about their long-term family history,” Moore said. “Most African-Americans can go back maybe to a great-grandparent. They’ll be able to walk out with a full account of their family history back to the first African who came here. It’s really going to be a transformative experience.”

Although several African-American museums exist in the United States, Moore hopes visitors will come to Charleston to pay homage to those who came before them and leave the invaluable experience with a deeper sense of their identity.

“Because this museum is on a spot where almost all African-Americans have a relative, there will be a real connection to the space and to the beginning of our American experience,” Moore said. “What we hope to try to create in this museum is a place where all African-Americans, wherever you are in the country or hemisphere, will want to bring your family here. It’s a place where your ancestors came and a place we can finally go to pay homage to their experiences and sacrifices, and reconnect with them.”

WNBA star Chiney Ogwumike does it all The Connecticut Sun forward is getting a head start on her potential post-basketball career

There is one rule of thumb Connecticut Sun forward Chiney Ogwumike continually abides by these days as a WNBA player: Don’t wait to begin your next career until after your current basketball career has ended.

It’s a mantra the 25-year-old repeats to WNBA rookies, and a sentiment that carries her through her many off-court endeavors, including her most recent announcement of joining ESPN as an analyst for its newly launched ESPN channel on Kwesé TV. The channel provides coverage and a unique sports experience to fans in Africa. For nearly three weeks, Ogwumike has faithfully rehearsed lines, shadowed on-air talent and attempted to correct her posture to ready herself for the new role.

“It’s an adrenaline rush, almost like playing in a game,” Ogwumike said. “You’re excited, but you don’t know what’s going to happen. You don’t know if you’re going to win, you don’t know if you’re going to lose. I second-guess myself because athletes tend to be different in broadcast. It’s a cool challenge for me because I love sports, it’s an African audience and, to me, the most important thing is, I knew this was out of the realm of what I imagined myself doing, but I knew representation matters.”

As a Nigerian-American, Ogwumike understands the passion African fans have for sports. Physical activities have always served as a bonding experience in her family, and the love for sports is partially responsible for Ogwumike and her older sister, Nneka, turning to basketball after being told they were too tall for gymnastics.

Staying connected and recognizing the need for in-depth sports coverage not only in her home country but throughout all of Africa is something that has been a priority for Ogwumike since her days as an international relations major at Stanford University.

Growing up, Ogwumike would travel back to Nigeria with her family once or twice a year. While attending Stanford and becoming a mentee of former U.S. Secretary of State and national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, Ogwumike was encouraged to align her passion for giving back with her academic pursuits. For the first time, Ogwumike made solo trips to Nigeria before studying abroad during her junior year. In her free time, Ogwumike traveled the continent, working with nonprofits on basketball clinics and to help raise money to build basketball courts.

“I saw the country with new, educated eyes,” Ogwumike said. “It was a huge educational experience for me, and I left very optimistic because when you think about Nigeria, you tend to think of a place left behind. But the potential is there.”

After being drafted as the WNBA’s No. 1 overall pick in 2014, Ogwumike immediately went to work. She completed her rookie season averaging 15.5 points and 8.5 rebounds before being named the 2014 Rookie of the Year. Shortly afterward while playing in Italy, Ogwumike suffered a right knee injury that required microfracture surgery. She missed all of the 2015-16 season.

“I think athletes tend to make the injury their narrative,” Ogwumike said. “Injuries happen in sports, but I never wanted to be defined by it, and I think that’s my motive. My mindset has always been I love basketball, it’s my passion, it’s opened doors, but it’s not the be-all and end-all for me. When I got injured, it sucked because I was worried about what would be my basketball future, but the injury also gave me time to step back and think and plan on my future. I know I can’t play forever.”

Thinking ahead, Ogwumike focused less on the pain and slow rehabilitation process and more on how she can continue to strengthen and develop relationships on a different side of the sports realm. During her downtime, Ogwumike took advantage of television time, including co-hosting opportunities on ESPN’s First Take and His & Hers, as well as serving as an analyst for NBATV during the 2015 WNBA playoffs. Ogwumike also partnered with NBA Africa to help launch Power Forward, a youth engagement initiative that uses basketball as a tool to develop health, leadership and life skills in Nigeria.

The next season, Ogwumike returned to the court to finish second on the team with 12.6 points per game and 6.7 rebounds per game, earning her Associated Press Comeback Player of the Year honors. In a situation similar to the first, unfortunate circumstances befell Ogwumike again — this time, in the form of an Achilles tendon injury in her left leg while playing overseas in China.

“The second injury in China was a heartbreaker because I knew something was off,” Ogwumike said. “But I always try thinking of the positive. I got home within three days from China and had surgery quick, because I had doctors on speed dial for my other injury. The situation could be worse for me. If I’m going to be challenged in my career, I’d rather it happen now than later. I also know that my worth is not just my stats. As women basketball players, our worth is not just how we play but how we represent ourselves. Yeah, I’m missing my WNBA season and it stinks, but I’m really excited about this opportunity with ESPN.”

Juggling her WNBA career while co-hosting SportsCenter across subSaharan Africa will present challenges, Ogwumike said, only because it’s uncharted territory for her. Yet, Ogwumike is keeping a positive outlook. As she looks forward to returning to the WNBA in the 2018-19 season, her focus also lies in finding a deeper meaning off the court and giving back to the countries that have given so much to her.

“It’s unique for me because being Nigerian, I know what our passions are, and it’s sports,” Ogwumike said. “If you look at who I am, I’m a Nigerian-American female basketball player. And this show caters to all Africans, especially Nigerians because that’s some of the higher viewership, and I think female sports are on the rise. Even though it’s out of what I perceive to be the realm of possibilities for my career, it’s perfect for me.

“I always try to think of my little sisters and young girls that want to do what I’ve had the opportunity to do. That outweighs the fear. At age 25 it feels like an avalanche, but at the same time it’s like that adrenaline rush that I get from playing, and it’s cool. No matter what your lane is, attack it, do it to the best of your ability, and that can be the thing that opens doors.”

Kevin Hart’s new book talks about beating the odds and his road to success The comedy star recently made a stop in his hometown of Philly on his ‘I Can’t Make This Up’ book tour

Comedian and actor Kevin Hart appears to have done it all, from performing countless stand-up concerts that include being the first comedian to sell out a professional football stadium (Lincoln Financial Field, 2015) to starring with some of the best Hollywood actors in feature films that have grossed more than $3.5 billion.

However, that’s not all for Hart. His latest venture is a new book titled I Can’t Make This Up, Life Lessons with Neil Strauss, and what better stop on his extensive multicity book tour than back in his hometown of Philadelphia?

With his comedic crew “The Plastic Cup Boyz” fooling around and observing off to the side, the career funny man interacted with people from all walks of life who just wanted to get a photo with him and hear what his new book was all about.

The event was initially scheduled in a more intimate setting on the Temple University campus, but because of the high demand it was moved to a much larger venue at the Free Library of Philadelphia’s Central branch. This proved to be the correct adjustment. More than 650 people lined up outside, some for hours, just to see Hart. I Can’t Make This Up talks about Hart’s road to success against all odds and sees life as a collection of chapters that are indeed life lessons based on humor.

“Not only do you get to choose how you interpret each chapter, but your interpretation writes the next chapter,” Hart said.

The hometown crowd consisted of fans from all walks of life, from senior citizens to babies. Some fans even brought gifts, such as a canvas painting, and although the event called for no autographs other than Hart’s signature inside the prepaid books, Hart made it personal by signing print-at-home tickets from previous concerts and giant birthday cards and personalizing graduation caps from high school seniors.

The sharply dressed Hart (black suit, shoes and a white shirt) was pleasantly surprised to see some familiar faces, in particular people from the neighborhood where he grew up, including a former teacher who may have taught Hart some of the same life lessons he mentions in the book. Some fans in the crowd were teary-eyed just to have a moment with the career funny man.

Hart, 37, felt compelled to speak with one fan who appeared to be a few months pregnant. This makes perfect sense because Hart and his wife, Eniko Parrish, are expecting a child of their own, a baby boy due later this year. Hart also has two other children from a previous marriage. Interaction was key in this event.

Another humble gesture by Hart was making sure the photos taken by a designated photographer were just right. At times another photo was required, but it didn’t faze Hart.

Hart took time out to get acquainted with library staff and security after photo ops with fans.

Philadelphia is where he was raised and where he found an avenue to become a successful comedian, actor and now author.

I Can’t Make This Up is published by 37Ink Books, a Simon & Schuster company.

The National Senior Games prove age ain’t nothin’ but a number Oscar Peyton started his track and field career at age 49 and quickly became one of the best competitive athletes

Oscar Peyton has never missed a National Senior Games competition since competing in his very first one at 50 years old — a year after his track and field career began.

This year, Peyton took home two more gold medals in the 100-meter and 200-meter races to add to his unblemished record during his eighth appearance at the National Senior Games in Birmingham, Alabama.

Every two years, athletes age 50 and over come together to participate in more than 850 events in 19 sports. This year, more than 10,500 athletes are in Alabama for the games’ 30th anniversary that began June 2 and ends June 15.

The games rotate to cities across the country, which is one of Peyton’s favorite parts about competing since his start in 2003.

“I love going,” Peyton said. “I love competing. Every year, they try to make it interesting by holding it all over the country. You get to see the country.”

Peyton, undoubtedly a late bloomer in the sport, was 49 years old when he began to develop himself as a competitive athlete. Before that, becoming a track and field star was the furthest outcome from his mind because growing up it was not considered a viable career path.

“When I was coming up, you couldn’t make a living off of track and field unless you were Bruce Jenner or somebody on a box of Wheaties,” Peyton said. “I didn’t want to put all my effort into something I couldn’t live off of, so I didn’t pursue track and field back then.”

But Peyton, along with friends and family, always knew he had a gift when it came to running. “When I was younger, I used to outrun guys who ran track and field,” Peyton said.

The 64-year-old was born and raised in the small town of Bogalusa, Louisiana, 73 miles southwest of New Orleans, and stayed close to home to attend the historically black Grambling State University, about a four-hour drive from his hometown. After graduating, Peyton moved to Maryland, where he worked as a computer programmer until retiring in 2008.

With very little to do outside of his job, Peyton tried to remain active as much as possible. Even before retirement, Peyton found comfort in recreational sports, but a sedentary lifestyle in his early and mid-40s turned what used to be an enjoyable game of pickup basketball into a chore.

“I really had no intentions of [choosing track and field], but I was getting close to retirement and I just needed some activities that I would try occupy my time with,” Peyton said. “I was always fast, so, hey, why not track and field?”

When he made up his mind to take up track and field, Peyton already knew the journey ahead would be a tough one.

“The first few years were rough,” Peyton said. “At 49 years old, I had to qualify in Maryland to be able to compete in the Senior Games at 50. The first four years of training, I just kept getting injured because training is a high-risk activity for injuries. My muscles just weren’t used to it.”

Over the years, Peyton has dedicated his time to retraining his body and recognizing his limits. For the Senior Games, Peyton trained about three days a week at local high schools, and with a group of his friends. Most of his conditioning includes drills and sprinting with a few home workouts in between.

Peyton has reaped health benefits from his lifestyle as a conditioned athlete as well. Before training, Peyton suffered from elevated cholesterol levels and muscle pain. Now, Peyton’s cholesterol levels have been lowered and workouts help keep him moving. Two of his younger brothers have had heart surgery, but Peyton believes training has helped him avoid some of the health problems that run in his family.

“I’m not on any medications or anything,” Peyton said. “I haven’t had to go to the hospital for anything. It’s been a health benefit.”

As the week comes to a close, Peyton has no choice but to look forward to the next game. Track and field may not be for everyone, but Peyton hopes his peers will continue to remain active as they mature.

“I would encourage anybody in their golden years to get out and be active,” Peyton said. “Eating right, exercising, getting proper rest are the keys to a healthy lifestyle. The Senior Games is an avenue to give you the motivation to do just that.

“My goal is to try to be the best that I can be at what I’m doing, which is track and field. I’ve set records, and I want to continue to set records. When you set them, your name goes in the books. Long after you’re gone, your name is still there. All the elites that come behind you, they take note of that. And I want to set the bar high.”

Rihanna looks to help, educate and inspire children in Malawi The entertainer spent time in the southeast African nation in efforts to gain a better understanding of the country’s problems

Of all Rihanna has achieved throughout her career, nothing seems to be more important to the pop star than helping others in need.

In the most recent string of philanthropic efforts that has the internet buzzing, a mini-doc released this week shows Rihanna, a global ambassador for the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) and founder of the Clara Lionel Foundation, visiting with schoolchildren at the Muzu primary school during a trip to the southeast African country of Malawi in January.

In the 10-minute video, Rihanna sits alongside Malawi’s minister of education, science and technology, Emmanuel Fabiano, former Australian prime minister and GPE board chairwoman Julia Gillard and Global Citizen co-founder Hugh Evans to discuss education, poverty, health, safety and other looming issues that are hindering progress in the country.

“I’m really here to see it,” Rihanna said. “It’s one thing to read statistics, but I want to see it firsthand and find out all that can be done and where to start first.”

According to 2014 statistics provided by the Education Policy Data Center, 57 percent of youths ages 15-24 had not completed primary education, and only 7 percent completed secondary education. In the video, a teacher explains that some classrooms may have a student-teacher ratio of 100-1, which makes it harder for students to learn and concentrate and often leads to them dropping out. Outside of crowded classrooms, poverty is an even bigger factor.

“It’s such a pity that they have to drop out because they are so smart, and everybody is learning together and learning at the same pace it seems,” Rihanna said. “It’s sad that that has to end for some of them, because they could probably do so much if they had the resources to continue and complete.”

Rihanna spent time with educators, students, parents and officials at Muzu who are diligently working to better conditions and build a brighter future for its children.

But all wasn’t sad. Many of the children remained upbeat and hopeful. Besides learning about the struggles of the Malawian people, Rihanna witnessed the children being educated through song and dance. She even joined the fun by helping them solve math problems, playing rugby and even empowering a group of female students as they proudly proclaimed that “girls rule” in the schoolyard.

“It’s amazing, the way they learn, though,” Rihanna said. “I love that they learn in melody. That’s my favorite thing, because kids, they adopt melody really, really quickly. And so if you can use that as a learning tool, I think that’s the most brilliant, brilliant thing.”

Bryson Tiller partners with Nike to revamp basketball courts in his hometown The Louisville, Kentucky, native spent the day with fans at Wyandotte Park before performing in a pop-up concert

R&B singer and songwriter Bryson Tiller returned to his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, with a gift that community members won’t soon forget.

Tiller teamed up with longtime partner Nike to revamp the popular Wyandotte Park in south Louisville. The renovations were revealed to hundreds of fans whom Tiller stopped to hug, sign autographs for and take selfies with after an introduction by Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer. Kids wore Nike-sponsored shirts with one of Tiller’s favorite messages of encouragement, “It’s possible here,” printed on the back. The message is also inscribed on the court sidelines to serve as a daily reminder to anyone who visits the court.

“I never thought this day would come,” Tiller told the crowd Wednesday. “I’m happy that it’s finally here. I’m surprised so many people came out here to show love … I just want to tell y’all, everybody always used to tell me that you can’t make it out of Louisville, Kentucky. You gotta go somewhere else — I disagree, because I made it out of this city. So if anybody on this court right now got a dream, you believe in yourself, you can do it. You can do this, too.”

The revamped space features three new courts that were designed to not only give the park a face-lift but also keep kids occupied and out of trouble during the summer by providing positive activities. For Tiller, being able to restore new life to the basketball court is something he’s looked forward to doing.

“Every time I come to Louisville, I just drive past on Taylor Boulevard, and I used to just see this court,” Tiller said earlier in the day. “I’m just like, ‘Yo, man, that court looks terrible. It’s time to do something to that court.’ ”

After the ceremony, Nike held a three-hour basketball skills clinic for local children. Tiller concluded the evening with a pop-up concert, performing music from his sophomore album, True to Self, which currently stands at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart.

This isn’t the first time Tiller has partnered with Nike to show his hometown some love. In December 2016, Tiller teamed up with Nike Sportswear to craft his own version of Louisville-inspired Air Force 1 Bespoke iD sneakers.

“I wore a uniform to school, so the white-on-white or black-on-black Air Force 1 Low was the simple sneaker to wear, but it was the standard,” Tiller said. “You were cool if you had on a pair of Air Force 1s. It’s still a staple for me while on tour.”

The custom design included an upper in university red leather “to recreate the look and feel of boxing gloves,” according to the site. The eye stay and custom tongue tag honored the branding generally found on the same gloves. The city-inspired design on the midsole and outsole, along with the word “possible,” complete the shoe.

“Whenever you fly into Louisville, you see a sign that says, ‘It’s Possible Here,’ ” Tiller said. “I remember my first time seeing it … I was working on my debut album, and I just thought, ‘Wow, it is possible here.’ Everybody always thinks you have to move out of the city and go where the music industry is, but it’s possible in Louisville and it’s possible anywhere. You just have to believe.”

Hip Hop Architecture Camp brings music and design together Michael Ford’s new camps will teach black and brown children basic skills in the field

Architectural designer Michael Ford often uses hip-hop and architecture as teaching tools during lectures and TED Talks. Now, Ford, along with sponsor Autodesk, is introducing his love for music and design to middle school children and teenagers in cities across the country through his Hip Hop Architecture Camp.

The camps will begin June 12 for participants ages 10 to 17 in Los Angeles; Atlanta; Detroit; Austin, Texas; and other yet-to-be-announced locations before wrapping up in August. Ford said he chose locations that serve as different hubs for hip-hop culture.

During the weeklong sessions, participants will be taught basic architectural skills such as reading tape measures and scales, sketching and drawing techniques, and 3-D and physical model-making. One part Ford thinks every child will enjoy is being able to participate in a music video at the end of the week.

“Every single activity is based on hip-hop lyrics,” Ford said. “I use lyrics from various artists from songs of today all the way back to the golden age of hip-hop, and those lyrics frame each one of those assignments. Everything [participants] do over the five days eventually becomes a music video. Kids will write verses based on their experiences each day, and they will have a freestyle competition where we’ll pick some of the top verses that will eventually make it onto a recorded track and music video.”

Before building his brand as The Hip Hop Architect, Ford earned a master’s degree in architecture from the University of Detroit Mercy, where his graduate thesis focused primarily on how hip-hop inspired architecture and design. Besides the lectures Ford has given, he serves as an advisory board member for the Universal Hip Hop Museum in Bronx, New York..

Most recently, Ford was a keynote speaker at the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Conference on Architecture in April. Still, Ford said, many people fail to realize the correlation between hip-hop and architecture.

“A lot of people have a problem connecting those two dots,” Ford said. “Some people think, when they first hear [Hip Hop Architecture], it’s a gimmick that just attaches hip-hop to something in a very gimmicky way, but it’s a serious conversation where basically what I do is use hip-hop as a way to describe the failures of architecture in urban planning in black and brown communities.”

Ford recognizes that people of color in the field are scarce. According to a 2015 study conducted by the AIA, people of color make up 18 percent of the architecture industry. Only 4 percent are African-American.

“Right now, we have such a low number of architects, urban planners and even architecture students that are minorities,” Ford said. “The people designing in and for our communities don’t have the same sensitivity that people have who came from our neighborhoods. My goal is to increase the number of young black and brown children that’s interested in architecture.”

People of color make up 18 percent of the architecture industry. Only 4 percent are African-American.

Ford, a Detroit native who now resides in Madison, Wisconsin, spent time working closely with the city’s planning department on ideas of how to engage black and brown communities. Since last year, Ford has been working with Danny Guillory, head of global diversity and inclusion at Autodesk, a corporation that produces software for 3-D design, engineering and entertainment, on hip-hop architecture initiatives. But it wasn’t until this year’s South by Southwest festival that the two collaborated on a larger platform.

“We support programs like the Hip Hop Architecture Camp because they help create opportunity, access and the ability to influence one’s reality for a new group of future designers, which benefits everyone in the long run,” Guillory said. “Initiatives like this inspire more students in underserved communities to strengthen their design skills while gaining exposure to careers they may not have considered previously.”

With the start of camp right around the corner, Ford is looking forward to teaching young minds about the intersections of hip-hop and architecture while attempting to pique their interest in a field where black and brown professionals are underrepresented. Ford also hopes to receive help from hip-hop artists, community leaders and activists who are willing to volunteer their time for a good cause.

“My biggest hope is that each participant can see that their culture is important, and it’s also a way for them to revolutionize what it is that they’re doing or what they hope to do when they grow up,” Ford said. “Getting them to see why it’s important not to check your culture at the door and for a lot of black and brown kids, letting them know that our culture is attacked every day. We’re told not to talk this way, not to walk this way or not to dress that way, but every time we look at TV, we see the appropriation of our culture. I’m trying to allow them to find ways to bring their culture into new arenas.”