Sometimes a traumatic experience at an early age will leave a child in shambles for a lifetime.
Other times, a traumatic experience at an early age will inspire a child to use his or her own life-changing moments to change the lives of others.
Juli M. Jordan chose the latter, most recently hosting the Gridiron Celebrity Hoops game at Hinkle Fieldhouse last Saturday to raise awareness and funds for neglected and abandoned children.
Put up for adoption as a child, Jordan was thrown into a world of confusion at the age of three.
“I just remember the whole stigma of having parents that don’t want you,” Jordan said. “And that’s what a lot of these kids are dealing with. You know, ‘How did you not want me?’”
Jordan worked all around the country for various companies, putting together sponsorships for special events, tours and concerts to help neglected and abandoned children.
Eventually, she decided to branch off on her own.
She launched Jam Sports and Entertainment in 1993 and is currently the president and CEO.
Jordan said she specifically wanted to start some sort of tournament to raise funds and awareness for both adopted and abused children and realized that basketball was perfect.
So the Gridiron Celebrity Basketball Game was born.
Celebrities and sports figures such as Terrell Owens, J. Cole, Floyd Mayweather and Dez Bryant took part in the event.
“It’s a big fundraiser for kids, and it’s a great opportunity,” Jordan said. “They want to meet the J. Cole’s and the Terrell Owens’s, the people that came up. Plus, everyone loves basketball.”
Hinkle Fieldhouse was not entirely full on Saturday, but the profits of all tickets sold will go toward Juli’s Kids Motivated to Succeed, a not-for-profit organization started by Jordan to help aid abused, abandoned and neglected youth placed in foster care.
“We had a pretty good number here today,” said Lloyd Taylor, Event Manager for Jam Sports and Entertainment. “We were in maybe one newspaper and a small magazine. But other than that, it was pretty much word of mouth.”
Taylor said the next step is sponsorships, such as already-signed-on Nike and Under Armour, in order to make the event bigger, better and more far reaching.
“We’ve been talking to people and all the celebrities this weekend,” Taylor said. “We’re going to bring them back and try to do more events in the city.”
Jordan said she has even higher hopes for her own event.
“I’ll be 50 in three years,” she said. “[Before then] I want it to be nationally televised, and then the legacy will live on.”