Written by Kyle Valdez
Since graduating from Morgan City High in 2017, basketball standout Makye Richard’s hoops career has taken him across the country. Originally signing with Baton Rouge Community College, then transferring to Northern New Mexico, Richard found a home this past season at Xavier New Orleans after a year in which he averaged 11 points, 6.8 boards, and 3.1 assists. Despite all the challenges he has faced, he is facing a far more difficult challenge than basketball or school.
He, along with three other young men from St. Mary Parish, has teamed up to start a non-profit organization to mentor the youth and unite the community of Morgan City through the “Roots of Brotherhood.”
“We wanted to make a change in our youth and show them that they have mentors and big brothers that they can turn to in time of need. Our main focus is to let them know that someone is here for them and someone is going to be for them their entire way.”
A truly unique combination of men, Richard is joined by Taaj Daniels, Kenan Jones, and Clifton Escort III. All four come from an athletic background, but each provides different aspects that may contribute to the success of this organization. Jones is a former state champion track and field athlete and four-star receiver out of Berwick High, eventually going on to compete for LSU the past two years in both sports.
Escort graduated from Morgan City High in 2016 and formerly played football for LSU. Daniels graduated from Morgan City in 2018 and is currently at LSU majoring in Pre-med. Richard is currently entering his senior year school at Xavier studying business management.
The origins of the organization have been in place for years.
“Growing up, every time someone asked me ‘what are you going to school for?’ I always said I wanted to give back to my community. I want to start training facilities. I want to have youth programs for the kids.” Richard said. “I can’t take all the credit for starting this group. I only had the idea. Taaj, Kenan, and Clifton all brought me in and wanted to start this group and asked for my help. They had a base foundation, and everything came together.”
The group held its first-ever event at the Siracusaville Recreation Center in Morgan City this past Saturday. Scheduled was a meet-and-greet session with games and food for all. Although the turnout was slightly less than expected, the effort was put in and progress was made. Dominating most of the time, was a panel-type discussion about the potential improvements for the Roots of Brotherhood.
At this point in time, just weeks after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, change is wanted. Certain parts of St. Mary Parish have bad reputations when it comes to the inclusion and treatment of those of different cultural backgrounds. All four men expressed it was time for a change in their community, and that they are willing to contribute to be the solution.
“George Floyd’s death has sparked a revolution worldwide. Now we know what we need to do, so we’re going to come back into our area and help as best we can to make that change happen,” said Jones.
When asked about why this was an appropriate time to start this organization, Richard responded, “Right now, I feel it is most important. This is the best time to do it because these people are seeing all this is going on. And wondering ‘who’s here for us?’ And now is the perfect time for me to show up and help my community in a great way.”
Other topics discussed were the importance of being a student before an athlete. Although three of the four mentors in this group went on to play college ball, they all have different experiences that may help teach the younger generation.
Escort mentioned his time at LSU and one of his major passions in art (which ultimately factored into his departure from the football team). Daniels, who plans on going to medical school and is described as “someone that [Richard] always looked up to because he was always so well-educated and had the driving force that motivated people”, had more to say.
“We’re more than just athletes. We also want to teach them that there is more to life than sports. No matter what you play, the ball is going to stop eventually. You can’t do it for the rest of your life.”
While Richard enters his senior year of college, he has gotten better and better throughout the past three years. Similarly, how he inspires the local youth through his performance on the basketball hardwood, hopefully, he can get them to believe in his positive endeavors off the court.
“Our short-term goals are to get people to believe in what we are doing. We have four good guys, and we want everyone to believe in what we’re doing and how we are doing it. We want to build a foundation of our group and build success in the future. Later, down the line, we hope to give out college scholarship funds and grow.”
Richard requested for anyone looking to donate, volunteer, or has any interest, contact him at 985-956-0321.
Jeremiah Gray, Owner
"GSportz is an independent, integrated sports media outlet that prides itself as a grassroots organization, which covers players, high schools and college sports across the state of Louisiana."