Equal Shot Basketball Academy looks to level the playing field

Posted at 11:40 PM, Jul 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-12 23:40:06-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Everyone deserves a chance, a shot to make their dreams a reality. Unfortunately, not everyone gets a fair shake.

According to the National Center for Children in Poverty, 48% of children in the south live in low income families. That's 48-percent of kids who may not have that chance, Equal Shot Basketball Academy is looking to change that.

To have a chance to give back is all Tallahassee native J.T. Escobar ever wanted.

"It's always been really heavy on my heart for kids who can't afford certain things, but want to be able to do certain things," said Escobar, who is the founder and CEO of Equal Shot. "For me, how do I use my privilege to create privilege and access for others."

Escobar was a stand-out high school hoops player who enjoyed a Division I career, and when it was over, he came back to his hometown and started Equal Shot Academy, a non-profit to give access to the game to everyone.

"The bigger heart behind the training we do going into our non-profit is to fund the bigger vision, so we can offer scholarships to kids who can't afford to pay for what training would normally cost."

"Low income families, at risk youth, had to channel their anger, channel their trauma, channel everything else going on in their lives into sports," added Destiny Story, Equal Shot Chief Operating Officer. "That was the only way they found a family. It's life changing."

Changing lives and giving kids an equal shot.

"I never wanted him to feel neglected. I never want him to feel left out, because of me not having enough resources."

For single mom LaShunda Gant, who's eight year old son Josiah is a scholarship recipient, seeing the smile on his face, is what Equal Shot is all about.

"I want to give my child the best of course, but I don't have everything planned out," she said. "I don't have the answers to everything. I think it's amazing they're doing this for these young children."

"It's much bigger than basketball," said Escobar. "There's so many different life lessons that you can learn through the game of basketball. There's so many different life lessons you can learn through the game of basketball that can help you be successful in life."

Helping kids through life through the game is just the beginning. Equal Shot has bigger plans.

"Equal Shot can be a place, a one stop shop, where a kid can come for athletics, academics, mental and emotional health," said Escobar.

"We have so many resources and none of us work together," added Story. "There's a big gap in getting a family everything that they need. So if we can provide that here, the vision and impact we have in Tallahassee could be tremendous."

A vision for the future, with a shot to make it better. Equal Shot has leagues and clinics running out of both Tallahassee and Apalachicola. Escobar told us there are up to 175 kids involved in the Academy, and around half of those are scholarship recipients. For more more information on Equal Shot, click here.