Men's Basketball Coach Levy Helps Launch Gun Violence Education Program



MCCC Head Men’s Basketball Coach Howard Levy has helped launch a program for basketball teams designed to educate about gun violence.  The program called Play Smart Save Lives, was formed by members of the NABC (National Association of Basketball Coaches).  Levy is one of seven members on the Play Smart Advisory Board that helped launch this program in 2022.



Play Smart Save Lives is a nonpartisan advocacy group founded by several NABC coaches following the shooting death of Houston Christian University star Darius Lee in 2022.  Play Smart Save Lives aims to educate coaches and student-athletes on issues pertaining to firearms and gun violence.  The group wants to serve as a forum for coaches and players to talk about and share their experiences with gun violence with the goal of facilitiating productive discussions and informed choices.


Lee was a star at HCU whose life was tragically cut short on June 20, 2022.  On that date, Lee was in Harlem visiting family and went to a park with friends when gunfire erupted and an errant bullet struck and killed him.  Lee was set to graduate that December while playing his final season with HCU.  Lee was named the school’s Robbie Robertson’s Male Scholar Athlete of the Year and also earned Second Team All-Southland Conference honors in 2022.


The first Play Smart Save Lives game was played on November 27th, 2022 between HCU and TCU, in a game hosted by TCU.  HCU wore black patches with D Lee on them and were part of their uniform for the 2022-2023 season, in honor of their slain teammate.


Levy is one of seven founding members of Play Smart Save Lives.  The other founders of this program include: Joe Kennedy, Executive Director of the Team, Ron Cottrell, Head Coach HCU, Gary Stewart, Head Coach, Stevenson University, Ryan Marks, Head Coach, University of St. Francis, Sam Quigley Smith, Head Coach, University of Illinois Edwardsville and Zack DiGregorio, Gun Safety Advocate. 


Other notable supporters of Play Smart Save Lives include Kelvin Sampson, Head Coach, University of Houston, Lon Kruger, Former Oklahoma, UNLV and Atlanta Hawks Head Coach, Mitch Henderson, Head Coach, Princeton University, Joe Scott, Head Coach, Air Force Academy, Fran Dunphy, Head Coach, LaSalle University, Jamie Dixon, Head Coach, TCU, John Thompson III, former Georgetown and Princeton Head Coach and Arne Duncan, Former U.S Secretary of Education.


Four other Region 19 Head Coaches are also supporters of Play Smart Save Lives including John Ball from Harcum, Bobbie Morgan from Essex CC, former Mercer men’s basketball player and current CC of Morris Head Coach Anthony Obery and Kevin Ryan from Raritan Valley CC.  Levy’s son Lior, who teaches and coaches at Fannie Lou Hamer Freedom High School in New York is also a supporter of the program.


According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 41% of Americans live with guns in their homes and 75% of those with guns, say they are stored loaded, in an unlocked location or stored with ammunition.  Some additional facts about gun violence are:  80% of the time when gunshots are fired on school grounds, that gun was unsecured in the shooter’s house or the house of a friend or relative, 75% of school shooters acquire their gun from the home of a parent or close relative and firearms are the leading cause of death for American teenagers and children, topping motor vehicle accidents and cancer. 


Gun violence in America disproportionately impacts young black men, who are nearly 19 times more likely to die by gun homicides than their white counterparts. Firearm homicides are the leading cause of death for young black men, more than the following fifteen leading causes of death combined. 


MCCC is planning to host their first Play Smart Save Lives Game on Saturday, January 20th in a 12:00 PM game vs Harcum College.  More details about this game will follow at a later date.


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Logo for Play Smart Save Lives 




Coach Levy in a timeout with the 2022-23 men's team