The J.J. Sharpe IMPACT Foundation debuted Saturday during an annual charity basketball game at the Emily Krzyzewski Family Life Center in Durham. The event was sponsored by D3 Community Outreach, a local organization for underserved youth in the city. Through athletics, arts, education, counseling, scholarships and mentoring, the foundation hopes to uplift children who have been impacted by violence.
The game was held in honor of 9-year-old Jaeden Sharpe, who was shot Jan. 4, 2014, at his home in Durham; he died Jan. 9. His murder was the first of the year in Durham.
In the week before the event, the Sharpe family and friends prepared dozens of T-shirts for the six youth and adult teams that would play during the tournament. The shirts were also sold to benefit the foundation.
Valarie Brown, a co-founder for the foundation and Jaeden's god-grandmother, worked alongside her daughters, Vallyn and Rayna, and others, wielding X-acto knives, vinyl printers and heat presses to produce the shirts. The logos were designed by Jaeden and his brother, Justin, the current CEO of the foundation.
The back of the shirts read "4 Jaeden Sharpe," pieced together from the boy's own handwriting.
Brown said that in the time since Jaeden's murder, working on the shirts "coats over the pain."
"It keeps us focused in a direction where we can hopefully help others," she said.
The Sharpe family hopes that after bringing a crowd of more than 200 people together during the games, the spectators will take the positive energy with them back into the community and prevent another murder.
Everett Lamont Graves, 23, has been charged with Sharpe's homicide. He awaits trial.