Pinball helps tackle gun violence

BRIAN GRAY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:24 AM ET

Amon Beckles' death is reason enough to Stop the Violence, Michael "Pinball" Clemons said yesterday as the Argos announced a total of $100,000 was being awarded to four community groups.

The Argonauts head coach reached out to Beckles' family and said there was really no difference between himself and the 18-year-old shot and killed at his best friend's funeral in November.

"To give up on Amon is to give up on life," Clemons told a throng of people -- including Beckles' mom, Nadia, and his 14-year-old brother, Lamont Laptiste -- gathered in the Scotia Plaza during lunch hour yesterday.

"There's nothing we can do to bring Amon back but we are going to do everything we can do to keep his spirit alive."

Clemons then hugged Nadia and enthusiastically shook Lamont's hand.

"(Amon) wanted to play for him," said Lamont afterwards.

'DREAM COME TRUE'

The Grade 9 Don Bosco Catholic Secondary School Student also plays football and said just meeting the larger-than-life coach is memorable. "It's like a dream come true."

The Argos Foundation grants -- $25,000 to each of four groups dedicated to fighting gangs and youth violence in the community -- will allow the recipients to build their already successful programs.

"With this money we can blanket the community; without it we'd just be lint," said Mike Diamond, a director with Leave Out ViolencE, an organization that takes teens who have been involved with violence and turns them into leaders.

The cash means they won't have to spend endless hours fundraising and can concentrate on establishing a leadership training program at West Humber Collegiate, he said.

Argo president and CEO Keith Pelley said a list of 60 groups was whittled down to four based on their commitment to fighting guns, violence and gangs.


Videos

Photos