By Laura Amato
Haron Hargrave sprinted around the Verizon Athletic Field, shouting instructions to whoever would listen as he tried to make sure that tables and tents went up exactly where he wanted them.
The Jamaica native and former Campus Magnet hoops star seemed to be everywhere at once—or at least he was trying to be.
This, of course, is par for the course for Hargrave, who has focused nearly all his energy over the last decade into giving back to the community that has given him so much. And, most importantly, providing a safe haven through sports.
Hargrave’s most recent endeavor was the second annual celebrity flag football game put on as part of his #Ballin4Peace initiative Sunday. The game, which included everyone from “Love & Hip Hop” cast members to city rap stars and actor Marc John Jefferies, was once again held in the shadow of the Manhattan Bridge and put Hargrave squarely in his element.
“I wanted to do something positive and I came up with this concept,” Hargrave said. “I tried to have peace through sports. I love sports. I’ve played sports my whole life. My thing is sports. I know how to get people other ways, but I love sports and that’s my way of giving.”
Hargrave’s reputation as a community man has skyrocketed over the last few years as the former University of Sacramento star has now organized the annual Queens Week event for 10 years.
Better known by his streetball nickname, H20, Hargrave has worked to ensure that each event is bigger and better than the last—including the now-annual flag football game.
Of course, that requires a bit of help and Hargrave has an extensive support system that makes sure everything runs smoothly.
“It’s pretty intense,” he said. “You need a lot of help.”
Hargrave’s events have started to draw sizable crowds and the hoops star has an idea why—this wasn’t just a fun afternoon. Hargrave is a born and bred competitor and he wants to win. That determination also extends to his community events.
In other words, this wasn’t just a simple flag football game among friends. This was a game, in the truest sense of the word, and one people would want to see.
“Sometimes people ask others to come out and it’s pure buffoonery,” Hargrave said. “It’s nothing solid about it and people know it won’t be anything worth their while. But with me people know when I’m doing something it’s going to be worth their while.
Hargrave has no intention of slowing down any time soon.
He’s spoken to people about possibly expanding the initiative—putting on events in cities like Chicago, Atlanta and Los Angeles. But before he takes the show on the road, Hargrave is determined to do his best for New York.
Legacy is a heavy word, but Hargrave knows that this work—even more so than his time on the court— is what he’ll be remembered for. It’s a feeling he’s more than just a bit proud of.
“I just see it as something that I really like to do. I just love to give back,” Hargrave said. “It’s been a blessing really.”