Brave your fear.

#12 Damian Pitts - Ball Player, Math Teacher, Community Change Agent

Feb 28, 2018

Damian Pitts
East New York, Brooklyn.
I am relentless.
I am reflective.
I am passionate.
BE influential.

Badass Quotes:
 “I played the best player 1 on 1 and that was that.” (6:55)
> “Anything I start I want to finish.” (8:56)
“That was a time, I was starting to rebel and be bad, and the school let me.”      
> “Blatant disrespect. I just can’t get with it.” (19:00)
> “Workers are people that just come. Working are the ones that are already there setting up because they know what’s going on.” (25:24)
> “Going away to campuses changed my life.” (26:15)
> “It started with neighborhood teams. So whatever neighborhood you lived in, get a team together and come play.” (29:00)
> “You know [the kids] are there when the games are at 5 and they’re there at 3 something.” (31:50)
“I was bad, but I was smart, too.” (35:54)
> “You’re not gonna to go back to something, or you need to get through this. You only could be brave. You need to get through it.” (38:12)
> “I love math.” (42:50)

Podcast Intro: 
Damian Pitts calls himself a regular guy. He says he’s grateful for regular stuff like good friends, laughing and helping people, that happiness is everything. Coming from a man from East New York who is now a math teacher in Brooklyn who used to be a kid who did some really bad things, it’s a particularly potent message. He is deliberate. He doesn’t rush things. And his magic / his gift is that people listen to him when he talks and organizes under his leadership. A regular guy? Maybe. An extraordinary man? Definitely.

Official Bio:
Damian “DP” Pitts was born and raised in the East New York section of Brooklyn. He grew up in Linden Houses with his parents Raymond Thomas and Joycelyn Pitts, and his two older siblings, Raymond and Eddie. His earlier years in East New York consisted of playing manhunt in the buildings, graffitiing every chance he got, and just doing whatever he felt was fun. As he got older, Damian found a love for basketball and played it day in and day out. In 1997, after 4 years of high school ball, he landed a scholarship to play in college. Returning back to NYC in 2002 with 2 college degrees and close ties to his friends that never left the block, Damian slowly started forming what is now one of the biggest things to happen to the East New York community - The East New York Memorial Classic aka Gersh Park Basketball Tournament. After 13 years running, Gersh is classified as the best streetball tournament in NYC and is the only tournament on the East Coast with a duel sponsorship from Brand Jordan and Nike. He is most grateful for having the opportunity to help provide jobs for people in the community that build professional work skills, and to be able to bring famous stars and entertainers into his beloved community.

Biggest Takeaways:
 How he got recruited to play in college (5:45)
> What is it like to go home after college (10:15)
> Being brave after his father died (15:30)
> A teacher’s perspective (17:00)
> What the kids today are most afraid of (19:29)
> What PNW means (22:26)
> What a job can do to help lower community crime (23:20
> Why it’s important for kids to go to school (25:30)
> East New York now (27:45)
> What childhood experience helps him lead the company now (32:40)
> How to dig in when things get hard (39:00)
> Where does East New York go from here (43:15)

Major Conversation Highlights: 
 Damian’s college experience (7:30)
> What gang life was like in early 2000s (10:45)
> Post-collegiate basketball opportunities (13:05)
>  Damian’s warm-demanding teacher (17:40)
> How he started basketball in East New York (20:50)
How Damien knew he was a leader (24:25)
> Why basketball saved his life (26:44)
> Why Nike is the best brand sponsor (30:30)
> His most emotionally scary moment (34:43)
> Damian’s 7-line Pitch (44:01)
> What he wants to see change in the world (47:08)
> Damien’s life team (47:55)
> What three words he uses to describe his mother (53:02)

Social Media:
Twitter - @GershPark
Twitter - ​@DP_GershPark
Instagram - @gershpark
Instagram - @ingershwetrust_DP
Facebook - @enygersh
Snapchat - @DP_gershpark

Additional Links:
A Conversation: Damian “DP” Pitts and Fly Ty
Gersh Park
Angel Figueroa


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