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Sole Brothers continues to make Southern California hoop dreams happen, one pair of shoes at a time

What started as a service project for eighth graders at Crossroads School in Santa Monica has turned into a nonprofit and AAU basketball program called Sole Brothers.

In 2008, a group of eighth graders at Crossroads School in Santa Monica, many of whom were on the school's basketball team, needed to fulfill community service hours.

So they decided to place bins around the school grounds looking for new or lightly used sneakers that could be donated to the Santa Monica Police Athletic League. They called the project Sole Brothers.

With the help of Crossroads middle school basketball coaches Travon Muhammad, a Crossroads alum, and Rich Singer, the basketball players from the eighth grade group started an AAU team and stuck with the same name -- Sole Brothers.

During one AAU tournament that summer, Sole Brothers played against a team from East LA and Muhammad noticed that the team's top player was wearing a worn down pair of skateboarding shoes.

"I took him to my truck and gave him a pair of hoops shoes," Muhammad said. "His coach went on to tell me that kid has never owned a pair of basketball shoes, he's crying in the corner, he's just so happy."

That struck a nerve with Muhammad. A few months later he sat down with Singer to discuss making the Sole Brothers charitable project a bigger entity.

"I didn't think this kid is the only kid in LA County that could use a pair of basketball shoes," Muhammad said. "So we had the boys do another community service project and we made it a non-profit, something we do annually."

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