ODESSA, Texas (KOSA) -- An basketball coach in Odessa, Texas is changing the lives of troubled teens simply with his love for the game.
They call themselves the Street Gorrillaz and head coach Josue Vera's approach is just as unique as the type of players he recruits.
From the outside looking in, you would think this basketball team is exactly like any other. But take the time to get to know these players and you would quickly learn they're anything but.
“Coach David and myself, we decided to take it upon ourselves to create a team based off street kids who didn’t get much opportunities from high school coaches,” said Vera.
For two months now, the Street Gorillaz have been practicing as a team four times a week.
Vera, better known as Coach Sway, formed the select team to help struggling and troubled high schoolers he met while playing pick-up games on the streets in south Odessa.
“I just don’t want those kids to be the basic stats of kids who don’t become nothing after high school, go to jail or end up dead,” Coach Sway said.
In many ways, Coach Sway can relate to his players. He was open about overcoming his own troubled childhood before one of his own youth coaches steered him straight.
Now he's paying it forward.
“We want them to have good attitude on and off the court,” said Coach Sway. “Originally, these kids had horrible mouths on them, now they’re [not] cussing [anymore] and all that stuff. We want them to be better human beings at the end of the day.”
When Fernando Ramos first tried out for his high school team, he couldn't dribble a ball very well, let alone shoot. But with a little push from coach Sway and his teammates, he eventually made the cut.
“It was just an absolute blessing to find somebody to coach us that will invest the time, and I feel like they can do the same with a bunch of different kids,” said Ramos.
The team is planning on playing in their first tournament in December.
If you would like to help with the costs, the Street Gorillaz have created a PayPal to help support their newly formed team. To make a donation just visit their website at www.streetgorillaz.com.