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A team of NBA stars, headlined by nine-time NBA All-Star and Miami Heat shooting guard Dwyane Wade, will join forces with popular Lakewood Church Senior Pastor, Joel Osteen, to talk about family and fatherhood this Friday during the 2013 NBA All-Star Weekend in Houston, Texas.

The event, which will take the form of a panel discussion, will be held at Osteen’s megachurch in Houston and will also feature Allan Houston, assistant general manager of the New York Knicks and former two-time NBA All-Star; Etan Thomas, retired NBA player, political pundit and children’s advocate; and Carl Lentz, pastor of the fast growing New York City church, Hillsong NYC. Soledad O’Brien, CNN anchor, will moderate the event.

Some 24 million, or one out of every three children in America, live in homes where their biological father is absent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

“Equipping men to be better fathers is a significant part of our mission at Lakewood Church and one that I believe in wholeheartedly. We are honored to host such an important event and to work with Allan Houston, Dwyane Wade, Etan Thomas, and others who care so deeply about this crucial issue,” said Osteen in a statement to The Christian Post on Tuesday.

Wade, who in March 2011 became the first NBA player to be awarded sole custody of his children after a very public and contentious custody battle with his ex-wife over their two sons, recently authored the New York Times Best-Selling book A Father First: How My Life Became Bigger Than Basketball .

In a special message on his website, he noted that: “In my book, I open up about things I’ve experienced that I’ve never expressed before. You’ll learn more about why I took the stand to be a responsible father to my sons. As a single dad with sole custody, I’ve learned so much. It seemed fitting to share my story and lessons with the world and encourage other parents to fully connect with their children to be the best parents they can be.”

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Regarding Friday’s event, he noted in a statement that: “Being a father to my boys is something I take very seriously. This event will bring us together with a unified goal to voice the significance of fatherhood and family…”

“The Allan Houston Legacy Foundation has been at the forefront of educating the public about the importance of fatherhood and strengthening the family unit for years,” said Allan Houston in his remarks on the event. “Now it is our goal to unify members of the NBA community and beyond in one arena to promote this cause. We are ecstatic to be able to partner with Dwyane, Joel and their organizations for what is sure to be a groundbreaking event.”

The panel discussion will be held on Friday, Feb. 15 at Lakewood Church (3700 Southwest Fwy, Houston, Texas) at 7:30pm. The event is free, and open to the public on a first-come, first-served basis and will include prizes and giveaways for select participants.

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fatherhood

According to the latest U.S. Census Bureau report, more than 25 million children now live apart from their biological fathers. That’s a 15.3 percent increase (eight to 23.3 percent) from 1960 to 2006.  Worse, nearly two in three (65 percent) of   black children live in fatherless homes, and almost 80 percent of those children can expect to live at least a part of their childhood apart from their fathers or significant male figure.

Lacking the presence of a strong, positive black male in their lives, even very young black men  show signs of succumbing to the pressures of street culture, violence, drug use, and misogyny.  They are literally dying-physically and emotionally-every day from lack of love and resources.  They have not learned the basic fundamentals of manhood, and instead are trapped in the unproductive and destructive state of boyhood.

Most of these young men have no real sense of who they are, what good they are capable of, and the tremendous obligation they have to maximize every opportunity.  They have never had an opportunity to learn about their unique history, accomplishments, and potential from strong black male role models who are capable of teaching and guiding them by example and shared discourse. This is why so many young black males join the legions of other distraught, angry and empty young black men across the nation; those who have lost hope in education and upward social mobility. Instead, many resort to criminal behavior or the overwhelming and unrealistic belief in professional athletics as the sole opportunity for acceptable social and economic advancement.

As bad as the facts cited above are – and they are bad – we strongly agree with our colleague and friend, CEO and Founder of the National CARES Mentoring Movement and Editor-in-Chief Emeritus, Essence magazine, Susan L. Taylor, who writes “reclaiming the lives of our children is a battle we can win. With the quality of their lives as the guiding factor in our choices—personal, political, financial and spiritually—we can create what is needed to move these soul-crushing statistics in the opposite direction.”

So, April 5-7, 2013 The MVP Foundation’s 1st Fatherhood Weekend will improve the local situation regarding low levels of committed fathers and overall lack of positive male influence in many inner-city families by:

  • Bringing together local funders of fatherhood initiatives w/local fatherhood programs in Northeastern Oklahoma,
  • Providing networking opportunity for fatherhood practitioners and stakeholders (parents, teachers, etc)
  • Providing information, inspiration, and empowerment  for Black males currently dealing with issues of fatherhood and manhood
  • Connecting resources and programming to Black males in need.

We will accomplish the above objectives through a series of events that include celebrity panel discussion on the topic of fatherhood featuring former NBA Star and author Etan Thomas, VIP Sponsor Reception,  indoor/outdoor Fatherhood Festival, and a Fatherhood Worship service.  Hope to see you in attendance!

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Attorney Damario Solomon-Simmons and his wife, TV personality and Charity blogger, Mia Fleming founded  the MVP Foundation with a mission to create programming that raises money and awareness to benefit Tulsa inner-city youth. Since,  2009 the MVP Foundation has helped more than 700 young people, and raised more than $125,000 for local charities and initiatives focused on inner-city youth.

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The MVP Charity Weekend  features Sports, Media, and Entertainment celebrities
from all over the nation coming to Tulsa for three-days of events that has something for everyone: Golf, Music,
Benefit Dinner (MVP Blue-Tie), Parents Workshops, free Football Academy, Life Skills
Seminars, and auctions with luxury items and one-of-a-kind sports
memorabilia.

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