Former Oakland Police Department Chief LeRonne Armstrong is taking on a new role.
This time, instead of leading a police department, he is helping to create unity on a basketball court.
Armstrong is now the newest coach added to the boy’s varsity basketball team at Oakland’s Bishop O’Dowd High School
“I had no idea who he was,” said player Tobias Aisien.
O’Dowd senior players are gearing up for their Thanksgiving showcase this weekend and they say it’s not only advice from the three-point line they are picking up from Armstrong.
“It’s like a father-son relationship for him being a mentor to me for mental stuff, physical stuff on the court and just IQ stuff like basketball plays,” said Aisien. “He is very good at connecting with you on a personal level.”
“He has definitely made an impact, kind of another guy we can talk to,” said player Miles Dixon.
Armstrong is not new to the court. Before ever putting on a badge, he played both high school and college ball. But it’s the lessons off the court he hopes will make the biggest impact.
“You get to see people who really don’t know who you are and all of the things that you have been involved in and they just see someone that they just appreciate being here everyday and your commitment to helping them matters to them,” said Armstrrng.
Lou Richie, Bishop’s head coach, and a friend and neighbor of Armstrong, is the reason Oakland’s former top cop is now helping the team run plays.
Richie says he believes it won’t just help the players, but also give Oakland’s former top cop a new path after the mayor effectively fired him earlier this year.
“He still has a huge impact in our community,” said Richie. “Seeing him smile, seeing him talk about basketball, we don’t talk about anything that has to do with Oakland police while he is here. So it is great for him to get away from that part of his life that is in the past and be here for the kids.”
While Armstrong’s application to get his old job back is still pending, he says his commitment to Oakland won’t change whether he is holding a badge or basketball.
“I’m trying to pay it forward. I’ve been really fortunate and despite whatever has happened, I’m really blessed to have risen to the position that I have and so if I can encourage young people to not forget to come back and volunteer and give back, I think that would be the most meaningful thing,” said Armstrong.
Source: NBC Bay Area