By Mike Max

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — There are so many stories of people who lived their entire lives in the cities that have been beaten up. Rich Melzer started in south Minneapolis and now lives in north Minneapolis.

It’s what happened in between that prepared him for his current life.

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Melzer was there marching with his friends from the city that he grew up with.

“It was a lot to take in at first, obviously. We didn’t anticipate that type of turnout. I don’t have an exact number but it went from a couple of hundred to thousands very quickly,” he said.

It’s ironic he’s here for the city because, as a kid, he got kicked out of the city.

“I ended up getting in some compromising situations as a youth that ended up leading me to be out of high school, ultimately I ended up getting expelled from high school,” he said.

He moved to River Falls with his family, made a commitment to basketball, and defied the odds, going from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls to the NBA and a career overseas. It changed his life.

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“The stuff that I used today in my professional life as a parent is all things I learned playing basketball — how to lead, when to take charge, when to fall back, how to take direction, ethics, how to be manageable, coachable,” he said.

And with that he returned to the city that he left to work at the YMCA, where they are working to help restore the inner city. Not far from there they burned and looted the buildings.

“There is unique governance here in the community over the YMCA. You look down the block and O’Reilly’s is a football throw away from here and it’s burned to the ground. The Y has been unscathed and untouched here,” he said.

Next week he will start to lead basketball camps here again, and the children will return to the court and the laugher will return to the north side.

Melzer will be a big part of it, because he matured, and his basketball journey made him a man that could lead in his original hometown.

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They will start with day camps Monday at the YMCA on Broadway and they will continue to distribute food and supplies.

Mike Max