In the summer of 2015, the Roanoke Police Department joined Roanoke City Mayor Sherman Lea, Roanoke Parks and Recreation and several other community organizations to start the Lea Youth Outdoor Basketball League.
Designed to give kids and teenagers between the ages of 11 and 18 a quality summertime activity, LYOB will plays at Melrose Park on Tuesday and Thursday nights between 6:00 and 8:00 p.m. beginning the first week of June. Registration opens in the Spring. There is a $10 fee for each player that covers all costs.
Mayor Lea said that while basketball attracts the kids to the league, it's what they learn from the "quality moment" presentations before each game that he hopes they'll remember. "We’ll have people from all walks of life come forward to discuss how they have overcome obstacles to attain success," Lea explained.
Crime Prevention Specialist, Officer Joshua Johnson, came up with the idea that later became LYOB. His goal from the beginning was to improve relations between officers and the community. "The LYOB provided a venue for juveniles and families to interact with officers outside of the law enforcement environment, and due to this relationship, we are able to provide a better service to the community, in Melrose-Rugby and Loudon-Melrose specifically," Officer Johnson said.
The Inner City Athletic Association, Roanoke Parks & Rec, and Roanoke City Schools have also been important partners in this initiative. LYOB reduced crime in the Melrose area by 29-percent last year on nights when the league was playing.