Buzzing about the Durham Hornets

Jun. 08, 2013 @ 10:02 PM

Remember not long ago when those young cats were out there shooting in Forest Hills Park?

It's a good bet that none of them played for the Durham Hornets, a youth basketball organization started by former Hillside Hornet Phillip Hayes.

That’s not to say that all that ails young people would get solved if they signed up for basketball teams.

But a kid could do a whole lot worse than play for Hayes.

“The love of basketball has always been there,” Hayes said.

While Michael Jordan recently decided that it was time to bring back the Hornets brand to Charlotte, Hayes’ Hornets – a tribute to Hillside High School – have been in Durham for the last decade, keeping kids on the court, as opposed to in court.

Basketball took Hayes to Livingstone College in Salisbury, where he suited up before transferring to UNC-Pembroke.

When Hayes settled back in Durham, he noticed that the coaches who were supposed to be teaching his son about basketball didn’t really understand the game. So he started the Hornets (

Hayes, 38, said the guys who coached him when he was a younger dude were his roles models, and the Hornets would give him an opportunity to return the favor.

Well, game obviously recognizes game, because Pastor Andy Thompson and his folks at World Overcomers Christian Church plan to present some money to Hayes during a big deal they’re having during Father’s Day weekend.

“No strings attached,” World Overcomers senior associate pastor Nate Davis said. “Just looking to give back.”

More information about the church’s June 14-16 Father’s Day weekend, which includes a comedy show featuring Marcus D. Wiley, as well as – I ain’t lying -- a bench-pressing contest in a makeshift man cave, is at You’re invited, and the $5 to hear Wiley make you laugh will go to charity.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Triangle also is expected to get a check from the church -  the whole idea being to honor men for mentoring younger men whose daddies aren't around.

Area lawyer Taurus Becton of The Becton Law Group donated $5,000 toward World Overcomers’ Father’s Day weekend. That’s how much he believes in the cause.

Hayes likes to tell his Hornets that he’s likely been through whatever issues they’re having.

From living in a two-parent home to being raised by a single mama, to living with his grandmama and having family members addicted to drugs, all the way to being the small kid on the basketball team who barely got any run to becoming a bona fide baller who earned a scholarship to hoop in college, Hayes said he’s been there, done that.

“That’s one thing I pride myself on is being able to relate to the kids,” Hayes said.

Hillside football coach Antonio King and former high-ranking Durham police officer Ron Hodge and his wife, Felicia, were pillars for the Hornets.

Hayes said his wife, Tamara, has been his backbone, nurturing instead of nagging as he executed the plays he drew up for kids in Durham.

What you have to appreciate about Hayes, a barber, is how he spent his own money to purchase a team van, although he’d tell you that it just made more sense than renting a vehicle every time the Hornets needed to travel. The money saved helps more Durham kids become Hornets, because, Hayes said, not every young man, for whatever reason, can play basketball for his school.

“A lot of these kids will get lost in the shuffle,” Hayes said.

Which brings into sharper focus the value of a Hornets roster spot.


Reach John McCann at or 919-419-6601.