Changing Lives Through Basketball

Platinum International Diamond, Ángel Molina has been no stranger to hardship. He grew up in the humble town of Corozal, Puerto Rico. After his parents divorced, Ángel became resentful and rebellious and fell behind in school. In 4th grade, a teacher noticed his struggle and began to personally mentor him, teaching him forgiveness and hope. Her kindness helped Ángel find a new life direction and paved the way for his success and desire to serve others.

Ángel has found an opportunity to help reshape the future of young men in Puerto Rico, who have experienced the same loss of hope and resentfulness. Ángel and his wife, Ivelisse founded the Kingdom Christian Academy, a nonprofit institution in Dorado, Puerto Rico, dedicated to providing educational opportunities for children from low-income or difficult backgrounds.

Through Ángel’s involvement with the academy, he met ten high school boys at different basketball tournaments. “I could see they were talented athletes, but they lacked the discipline to succeed academically and their future was in jeopardy.” Ángel remarked.

He quickly learned that many of the parents in the boys’ lives were absent. Necessities like food and clothing were hard to come by. With unstable home environments and little outside support, Ángel saw a reflection of his younger self in them.

Ángel said, “I understand firsthand the effects of abandonment on a young boy, and I wanted to help them heal so they could form stable families as adults.”

Ángel and Ivelisse offered the boys a place at their school where they could learn, grow, and create positive futures for themselves. They invited the boys to play on the school basketball team where the boys could receive athletic coaching and academic support on one condition: they must complete the credits needed to graduate high school. The boys accepted the challenge!

Ángel said, “The boys worked so hard. Their teachers and coaches emphasized the importance of self-worth and purpose; the boys were like a family. I saw them begin to grow.”

The boys played in basketball tournaments all over Puerto Rico, beating team after team! They were eventually invited to play in Central Pointe’s International Thanksgiving Showdown in Orlalndo, Florida. 4Life flew all of the boys to Florida and paid for hotel expenses so that they could compete. For many of the boys, it was their first time on an airplane. 4Life surprised the boys with new shoes, sweatshirts and treated them to a fun visit at a few local theme parks.

The basketball team finished third in the tournament and has since been recognized as the number one team in Puerto Rico in the Senior High School division. Plus, the team competed in a second tournament and took the national champion title! Two of the boys have earned college scholarships, and most are positioned to attend college.

“It was such an amazing trip. It touched my heart to see their wide-eyed reactions to being in the United States. I could tell that it was an experience that would stay with them forever.” -Ángel Molina