Books and Basketball was born from the simple idea that young, urban black men need role models that they can relate to, and connect with.
Byron Young and Taz Ahmed were actively involved in mentorhip programs in Minneapolis. They found that the students involved in the programs lacked access to mentors that looked like them. Often, the program directors would pull them aside and request for "more men of color that the students could relate to."
In their weekly basketball runs, Byron and Taz had access to those men of color. They played with a group of young African American professionals men from major corporations in the Twin Cities. These men were leaders within organizations such as Target, General Mills, and United Health Group.
In 2015, Byron and Taz came up with the concept of inviting the young black men from the community to join them in these basketball runs. They could build relationships and showcase positive men of color while playing the sport they love. From there, the two built a life lessons curriculum based on Hill Harper's book, Letters to a Young Brother, and enlisted the help of another friend and fellow mentor, Arnaud Ndihokubwayo to create Books and Basketball.
Books and Basketball partnered with Bobby Brown's Beyond the Court, a non-profit organization geared at African American mentorship, with a proven record of success in the community and passion for changing lives through sports. This partnership provided B&B with the infrastructure they needed to quickly incorporate the organization.