WESTMORELAND — Despite a last second 57-54 loss to crosstown Cider Street rival Oriskany, Lawrence Moten Night scored big points with the Westmoreland boys basketball team on Friday, Dec. 13 at Westmoreland High School.
Moten is a former Syracuse University basketball star who holds the career scoring record for the Orangemen with 2,334 points. He is also the men’s Big East Conference all-time leading scorer with 1,405 points, according to basketballreference.com.
Moten was selected in the second round of the 1995 NBA draft by the Vancouver Grizzlies where he played for two seasons, before signing for one season with the Washington Wizards.
Having earned a degree in education while at SU, today Moten works with students at the Clary Middle School in Syracuse. He is also active with the Syracuse non-profit “Pass ‘Da R.O.C.K.” organization, a program that strives to lead young inner-city youth away from desperation and lead them to hope.
While Moten works in Syracuse this trip to Westmoreland is not his first.
“It’s an honor to be back here in Westmoreland,” Moten said. “I was here last year for coach’s clinic that he had because I always enjoy teaching the youth. I tell them at the end of the day what you put in this game is what you’re going to get out of it. As long as you work hard and stay committed to your teammates, and yourself, everything else will take care of itself.”
Moten stressed as much as he enjoys teaching the game of basketball to young people he speaks to them about their other responsibilities to themselves as well.
“I’m big on stressing academics also,” he added. “It’s not all about teaching the game of basketball, I’m just trying to teach the game of life.”
Moten credits his 96-year-old grandmother with teaching him the most important thing in life.
“Life is not about money,” Moten said. “It’s about how you treat people and having character.”
Nathan “Nate” Pena, who grew up in poverty and from a broken home on the streets of Los Angeles, established “Pass ‘Da R.O.C.K. with his wife Becca, in the hopes of keeping kids from having to grow up believing their futures were bleak, the way he once did.
“We have two prong approach, Pena said. “Community outreach as well as school based partnership in Syracuse. The whole idea is to give kids experiences that give them hope.”
So how does a Syracuse program for inner city kids end up in the small town of Westmoreland? The answer is golf. And a man named Roger Doyle.
“I met Roger through a golf tournament I held,” Pena said. “He’s also is a friend of Lawrence’s and Lawrence was coming out here to support Roger and his program, and so since we knew each other, they said come on out and we willl support your program as well. Money was raised during the evening through T-shirt sales, and a 50/50 raffle with the proceeds going to “Pass ‘Da R.O.C.K.”
Doyle, along with Westmoreland boys basketball coach Nick Facciolo, Terry Mosely, Marty Lagasse, Wayne Suber, Darrick Dean and Greg Williams worked to create the Westmoreland Youth Basketball program, a program designed to do for the Westmoreland children what Pena is doing for the Syracuse children.
“Basically, in a nutshell, we created this program to keep these kids away from crime and drugs,” Doyle said. “Lawrence is a friend of mine and has a big heart, so he came out to support us and in return we’re supporting Lawrence and Nate.”
Moten gave the Bulldogs a pregame pep talk, and continued to sign autographs and take selfies with as many people, young and old, who asked him.
Even after the game ended, Moten stayed out on the floor and spoke to everyone who approached him.
“It’s all about character, man, it’s all about character, “ he said.
You can learn more, or contact “Pass ‘Da R.O.C.K.” at www.passdarock.org.
More information on Westmoreland Youth Basketball can be found on its Facebook page www.facebook.com/Westmorelandbasketball/