Miami Heat forward Udonis Haslem knows that by coming together as a community, you can make a difference.
“We can have hip-hop. We can promote music. We can come together without violence. That’s what we’re gonna show today,” said Haslem at the start of the second People Matter Festival at Gwen Cherry Park in Liberty City over the weekend.
A component of the festivities was a 24-hour county-wide moratorium of gun violence. But the cease-fire didn’t hold. There were two fatal shootings in Miami Gardens Saturday and Sunday respectively.
Haslem, a Miami native said a big difference in his life as a child was not allowing too much downtime and taking advantage of opportunities like going to the park in Miami.
“Just growing up in Miami, I played at every park you could be at. That’s the reason why I am where I am today,” he said. “If I didn’t have an opportunity to have an outlet. If I didn’t have an opportunity to get away from the trouble, violence, drugs, and the different things that we face as youth then I wouldn’t be here today. I encourage you, young kids, to take advantage.”
Haslem’s sentiments were resounded by some residents who just stumbled upon all of the traffic and others who were delighted to find positive activity going on at the park. More than 3,000 festivalgoers filled the park to enjoy the free concert, haircuts, food trucks, art and resources.