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Law enforcement takes on ex-convicts in charity basketball game

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MUSKEGON, Mich.-- It was an unlikely match-up on the hardwood in Muskegon Saturday night with ex-convicts taking on law enforcement officials in a friendly game of basketball.

It was organized by the group 70x7, which helps formerly convicted felons transition back into society.

Saturday's game was a tie breaker game three years in the making.

"They won the first year, we won last year, so this year here is our tie breaker," said Nate Johnson, reentry director for 70x7.

"I did some pretty significant recruiting of my law enforcement," said DJ Hilson, Muskegon County prosecutor. "I found some size, I found some youth and we're going for the 'W'."

It's the third year of the 70x7 police versus parolees basketball game, a game where you can leave for past at the door.

"I don't care who you are, I don't care what baggage you bring because ultimately we all have some kind of baggage and it's all about just having fun," said Hilson.

It's a chance for once convicted felons to move forward with some of the law enforcement officials that sent them to prison.

"This is kind of our version of reconciliation," said Johnson. "Let's do something on a common ground where we can all meet up and let's reconcile the two groups. The game speaks more volumes than any words probably would."

"At the end of the day, we all have jobs to do and I think people understand that, but we're all human too and we can all do this in the spirit of friendship and certainly in the spirit that we're going to give you another chance."

It's part of reinventing the reentry process in a way that's outside the box.

"This here tears down a lot of walls," said Johnson. "It breaks down a lot of that stuff and now we can meet up on a common ground and converse and build relationships in a healthy way."

Police took the lead over the parolees with a final score of 20-18.

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