For The Love of The Game: THE BROTHERS MARTIN

By Clifford Benton
Updated: August 21, 2006

Queens, NY—“We got in this for the love of the game—and the kids,” Raheen Martin said. Raheen is one-half of a dynamic duo—both named Martin—who just happen to be brothers from the same mother and father. And they just happen to be one of the most successful streetball organizers in history.

The Almighty Force Basketball Tournament is the brainchild of younger brother Shahee and older brother Raheen when they decided that the name was too good to be limited to their hip-hop crew. And, since the early 90s, they have become a force to be reckoned with literally and figuratively.

But, these brothers are more than just B-ball tournament organizers—they have a higher calling. They’re community minded. They’re conscious regarding the plight of their people. They understand the proliferation of gangs has everything to do with the lack of recreational options and a failing school system. So with that in mind, Shahee and Raheen forged ahead and have never looked back.

They have expanded their franchise to include a tournament in Brooklyn, and they have their eyes on Long Island and the Bronx. Shahee was in Florida, but we did catch up to Raheen who is 40 something, bald-headed with a little stomach but gracious, classy, and passionate about the Almighty’s mission. We wanted to know how they’ve been holding it down without any major sponsorship and operating in the heart of the ‘hood.

Raheen Martin and BlackAthlete CEO Roland Rogers

Raheen Martin and BlackAthlete CEO Roland Rogers

Unfortunately, many adults are afraid of the youth. Raheen said, “In terms of the gangs, I know all of these kids. I knew them before they were a Blood or a Crip. I’ll straighten them out if I see them doing wrong, and then I’ll go tell their mother or father.”

They want potential sponsors, scouts, agents, etc., to know that they can attend their games at Ajax Park, in Southeastern, Queens, right off the Van Wyck Expressway and be spared the violence and drama.

“We got a no-punch rule so we don’t have fistfights at our games. We use the players for crowd control since they know most of the people who come. And, the people that come out become our Almighty Force–our street team in the truest sense of the term,” Raheen said.

Recently, the Almighty Force Basketball Tournament has come to the attention of Slam Magazine, Streetball on the MSG Network, and Mountain Dew. The best is yet to come as different sneaker and apparel companies, a few record labels, and phone service providers vie for an opportunity to be exclusive sponsors. One thing about the brothers Martin, you can bet they won’t sell their tournament to the highest bidder. They got in this for the love of the game—and they’re gonna keep it that way.