The Kings of Beloit - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

The Kings of Beloit

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BELOIT, Wisconsin --

There's no denying the power of sports.
They have the ability to tackle issues and unite people everywhere, all for the love of a game.
Just an hour south of here, on the Illinois-Wisconsin border, one man combined his love for basketball with his passion for helping troubled youth to create the Beloit Kings.

With a population of thirty-seven thousand, Beloit is a small town, but one with a growing crime rate. 
For Byron Matthews, he sees a smaller version of what he witnessed growing up in Chicago. 

"Violence was a thing of the normal so growing up in Chicago was tough, it was tough. I could have had a chance at playing college ball but I ended up getting shot."

Matthews was fifteen when he first got caught in the crossfire between two gangs. Then 8 years later, he was shot again during an attempted carjacking.

"That was the final time for me, "he says, "I said man, next time I might not be so lucky."

Shortly after, Matthews moved his family from Chicago to Beloit in search of a better environment to raise his three kids. But with the growing issue of local youth becoming involved with gang violence, Matthews came up with a plan.

"When kids don't have nothing to do, they find something to do. And in the black community, 90% of the time it's negative...I believe that we can control that crime, and that's why I stared this basketball program." 

And so the Beloit Kings were born, but the first year came with it's own set of failures. Wins were few and far between, and Matthews, who put his own money into the program, went broke.

The following year, Beloit found success in a few tournaments. One win, turned into another, and another, before they were beating top-ranked teams in major tournaments.  
A team of thirteen boys became five teams, with a girls squad being added to the mix.
Kyheair Rivers joined the Kings only three months ago, but she quickly discovered what type of man Matthews strives to be. 

"I didn't have a ride to practice and he lived up the street from me and everyday he'd come and pick me up and take me home from practice," Rivers says. 

For the soft spoken sophomore, the basketball team became the family she didn't have.
Her mother gave her up after birth and her father was never in the picture. Then this summer, Kyheair was put into a foster home in Janesville. Matthews knew he and his family had to step in to help Rivers. 

"My wife and I sat down and we talked about it, and you know my wife said, "Hey, we gotta take her." And I said, "I agree. We'll take her on." And we don't know how we gonna make it, but we gonna make it."

The Matthews are still in the process of adopting Rivers and adding to their family of five. But to Matthews, his family is nearly one hundred as he considers all his players his family. And like any father, he wants to show his kids how to live a just life and ultimately find success in their future. 

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