Brian Smith sincerely believes that basketball is a means for inner-city children to gain positive opportunities out in the world. And he would do just about anything he could to bring awareness to that ideal.
How about dribbling a basketball 10 miles?
Smith, 27, a basketball trainer and instructor from North Philadelphia, will participate in Sunday's Broad Street Run and plans to dribble a basketball for the entire 10-mile route, from Fisher Avenue to the Philadelphia Navy Yard.
"I just thought it would probably be a cool idea to try it," Smith said Thursday. "I've never really heard of anybody dribbling from one end of Broad Street to the next. So I can dribble the race instead of running it. I can run 10 miles, but who can dribble 10 miles?"
Smith, who runs along Kelly Drive every day and occasionally dashes up the Art Museum steps, said he's working three hours a day on just dribbling and feels that repetition is the key.
"The more you dribble a basketball, the more your hands can be stronger," he said. "This is a mental thing, running this race and dribbling. I'm sure a lot of people can probably do it but they'd probably get to Susquehanna [Avenue] and be like, 'You know, this is too far. I've got to stop.' "
Smith, who played high school basketball locally at Ben Franklin, conducts skills clinics for kids every Saturday at the Athletic Recreation Center at 26th and Master, and runs a peewee basketball league for boys and girls ages 2 to 7. He hopes the sport will help youths the way it has helped him.
"Basketball took me further out of my community to different states," he said. "I was able to travel and see different things. That's why I'm able to do what I'm able to do because basketball builds bridges, and I came across the bridge. It helps to prevent violence and drug abuse and everything that affects inner cities across the country, even the world."
Smith, who has a YouTube video entitled "Basketball Builds Bridges," said the children he coaches are aware of what he'll try to do on Sunday. He wants to prove to them and to others that this can be done.
"Anything you put your mind to, you can do," he said. "They're all supporting me, but they're shocked I'm going to dribble a basketball 10 miles. They believe it, but you really don't believe something until you see it."