Photo: Jason Gonzalez. Melrose girls prep for their game at Jackson Houses, in honor of Brandon Hendricks.

B-Diddy B-ball tournament honors Brandon Hendricks

A quadruple-header at Andrew Jackson Houses in Melrose on July 7 followed the street co-naming ceremony for Brandon Hendricks at the corner of 156th Street and Park Avenue. The second annual B-Diddy Basketball Tournament was so named for the slain James Monroe HS star point guard, and played on the same court on which Hendricks honed his craft.

“Brandon was my brother,” said Juan Arias, the MVP of the tournament’s first game. “Brandon was my little brother. I used to have him out in the gym and on call at six in the morning. I wasn’t going to play out here today but I had to, for him.”

Along with a contest between locals, a girls high school game, a boys high school game, and a “Da Village” vs. NYPD officers game were played to memorialize Hendricks, whose skills caused him to considered for college scholarships.

“There’s a lot of violence going on, so it’s good for stuff like this to happen,” said Starr Garcia, the girl’s game MVP. “I’m not glad that Brandon went away, but Brandon made this happen. Brandon is bringing peace and love into the community. That’s what this is bringing into the community and that’s what this is doing for me.”

A bullet aimed for someone else killed Hendricks in June 2020 in Morris Heights.

“This brings the community together,” said Arias. “We got to stop gun violence and we got to do it as a whole, together. Everybody got to be on it. We got to keep doing it for the community, and I just want to say thank you to Brandon. Thank you, my brother. I love you forever.”

As the most valuable players for their respective teams, Arias and Garcia each took home a 43” Hisense H55 Series Android TVs donated by the Detectives’ Endowment Association, Inc.

A message written on the boxes in which the televisions were packed read, “Loving son, student, athlete, and a source of hope and inspiration for everyone who knew him. May he rest in peace.”

The bittersweet celebration, which the NYPD helped organize, concluded with a march that commenced in Bedford Stuyvesant where one-year-old Davell Gardner was killed, before proceeding north to Jackson Houses in Melrose. 

Melrose anti-violence activist Hakiem Yahmadi said the event brought back painful personal memories, but served an important purpose for young people locally.

“I lost my son to gun violence,” said Yahmadi. “Last year, after [Hendricks’] death, today on Brandon’s birthday, the young men in the community said that they wanted to play basketball [in Hendricks’ honor]. And we respected that.”

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