Local semi-pro basketball team starts first season
In an effort to keep young men off the streets and steer them in the right direction, basketball coaches, along with the Turner Station Conservation Teams, formed semi-pro basketball team, The Baltimore Lords of War.
Earlier this year, coaches Derrick Gilmore, Vincent “Pooh” Willis and two others formed the team after
years of planning.
“We talked about starting a team for years but never did anything about it. Finally, we made a decision to create the team after gaining resources,” Gilmore said.
According to Willis, creating the team was simple.
To enter in the American Professional Basketball League (APBL), a branch-off of the American Basketball Association (ABA), you have to pay the league fee, form a team, get coaches and uniforms.
Once the coaches came together and the fee was paid, team leaders gathered young players from different areas of Maryland, Pennsylvania and former members of Willis’ youth organization.
Team Silk, a youth organization formed by Willis, mentors children with the goal of getting them some type of basketball scholarship for college.
“We do SAT prep courses, send the young men on college tours but the main goal is to make sure these kids get a scholarship in basketball on any level,” Willis said.
“These guys love basketball,” Gilmore said.
According to Gilmore, before players commit to The Baltimore Lords of War, they must make sure they are finished with college or have no plans on going to college.
Once players sign the semi-pro basketball league contract, it forfeits the players opportunity to play in college, he noted.
All players must be 19 years or older in order to play.
Players are only required to sign a one year contract, Gilmore explained, “because the goal is to get them out of here.”
“We want this to be a stepping stone, an actual segue to get these guys out of the city,” he added.
According to Gilmore, the team leaders don’t want to keep the players forever.
“We want them to take larger opportunities as the come,” he noted.
Getting the players contracts to play overseas or in some type of professional arena is the ultimate goal.
“Even if the players don’t leave, we want to grow this team large enough that these guys can quit their jobs, play full-time and support their families,” Gilmore said.
The Baltimore Lords of War’s shooting guard, Garrison Lamb, has been playing basketball since he was eight years old.
His brother plays professional basketball overseas.
Although Lamb has a degree in information technology, he hasn’t been able to find a job in his field, so, he’s hopeful that playing professional basketball will open up new opportunities.
“I like pro-ball, I like the team,” Lamb explained, “I want to do things I’m not comfortable with.”
According to Lamb, he wants to go as far as possible with basketball and possible play overseas.
“I’m supper grateful for the opportunity and I want to give them [the team] as much as I can,” Lamb said.
The Baltimore Lords of War will be playing their first game, against a team from New York, on Nov. 3.
The Baltimore Lords of War take group picture with their coaches