Hoops by the River was established in the summer of 2009 by Mr. Will Kelly lll as a way to showcase youth Basketball in New York City. As a young child Mr. Kelly had enjoyed playing basketball throughout the city of New York and traveled with various AAU teams that participated in some of the toughest tournaments throughout the country.

During his playing days he was regarded as a play maker, and great on court leader. Mr. Kelly III practiced for countless hours with his 2 siblings on the grounds of the Thomas Jefferson Park basketball courts, located on East 111th Street between 1st avenue and the FDR drive in the East Harlem section of New York City. To enhance their basketball skills their loving father Will Kelly II drilled Will Kelly III and his two siblings on the facets of basketball on a daily basis, fostering A Love for the Game that continues to this day. This level of dedication to the game has inspired the Kelly Boys to give back to their community by teaching young boys and girls from East Harlem and the surrounding areas the game of basketball. During the summer of 2009 Will Kelly III decided to create a competitive youth basketball league. He sought the Advice of His Father Will Kelly II because his father had coached Youth basketball in AAU, Junior High School and the High School levels for over 30 Years. That coupled with Will Kelly III’s prior experience both Coaching and Directing youth Basketball Leagues throughout The New York City Area cemented the Idea.

They had the passion and love for the sport, they both loved creating activities for the kids in the East Harlem community as well as around the New York City area. Together father and son put their ideas together and began a unique youth basketball league in East Harlem New York, They added Will Kelly III’s 2 brothers, a cousin and 2 more gentlemen to assist with this basketball project. All seven of these gentlemen had a huge amount of sports experience, these gentlemen had either played or coached youth basketball in East Harlem and around the City of New York for over 25 years. While they may have originally met on the grounds of the basketball courts in the Thomas Jefferson Park, located on East 111th street between 1st avenue and the FDR drive, in East Harlem N.Y. Their passion for the Game made them an extended family. As a family they discussed their roles in the league, the various tasks and responsibilities it would take to develop a unique, strong, positive youth and adult basketball league in East Harlem New York. These discussions took place on the WaterFront by the east river only accessable by a footbridge which is located behind the Basketball courts in Thomas Jefferson Park. It was during one of these walks across this bridge that this group of men decided to name the youth basketball league HOOPS BY THE RIVER, or HBTR for short. All of the members had great ties to this part of Thomas Jefferson park. They had played pick up games there, their kids and in some cases even thier grandchildren learned to play the game of basketball on the basketball courts of Thomas Jefferson Park. This group of gentlemen decided it was important to give back to their community and this was a way to give back.

The first 2-3 years, they funded the youth basketball league, without any sponsorship or other funding resources.


HBTR originally began with two divisions. A 10 year old division which featured 10 teams, and A men’s division which also featured 10 teams. The games were played at the rear courts in Thomas Jefferson park in East Harlem New York. They were unable to gain access to a gymnasium for a rain site during those early years and as a way to ensure the Tournament continued regardless of Weather games were reschedule during rainy days. As HBTR moved forward with their basketball league in 2009,HBTR was able to secure an indoor gym space and conduct, a free skills and drills camp for 6 weeks for young Kids between the ages of 5-17years of age . HBTR was able to continue league play throughout the winter months with the available gym space.

in 1983 by Will Kelly II, his objective was to give the youths a safe environment and have a positive outlet in East and west Harlem New York City. During that time the Harlem Jazz had fifteen players, ages 15-17 years of age boys. Will Kelly III decided to bring back the Harlem Jazz and renamed the team, the New York Harlem Jazz. He added ages 10 year olds, 12 year olds 13 year olds, 14 year olds and 16 year olds. He traveled throughout the metropolitan area, with these teams with the help of other coaches. All teams participated in competitive league play with youths from the East Harlem community. This also gave East Harlem youth the opportunity to travel out side of East Harlem and help them reach their maximum potential of playing basketball. They would also meet people from different area’s and cities during league play.

HBTR expanded league teams, from 18 teams in 2010 to 60 teams in 2015. HBTR has an additional 100+ student athletes and community youth participates from East Harlem, who participate in the HBTR, STOP THE VIOLENCE DAY EVENT. This event is the start of HBTR summer league, during the month of May ,memorial day weekend every year. The purpose of this one day event , is to educate our youth in East Harlem and around the city of New York to understand the importance of life and care for their community in a positive manner. For more than a decade, the East Harlem community has been RATTLED by violence, HBTR is involved teaching anti violence to youths in East Harlem. We come together on memorial day weekend , play competitive basketball games, eat together, interact and discuss anti violence in our community, we also discuss how we can make changes in our community in a positive manner. This event is supported by our local community businesses, the New York City council office of Melissa Mark Viverito, New York City Council Speaker and New York City Council member district 8.

In 2010, HBTR decided to eliminate the mens division, we placed much focus and energy on our youth basketball league, ages 8u,9u,10u,11u,12u, 13u,14u,and 16u, with a year round competitive basketball league. During the winter of 2010, Will Kelly III, Will Kelly II and the HBTR youth basketball organization was presented the New Yorkers of the week, by channel 1 New York news, for the dedication and hard work with youths in East Harlem and throughout the City of New York.

In 2012, HBTR’S staff participated in the New York City Council members, district 8 participatory budgeting (PB). HBTR was very helpful to East Harlem residents to decide and vote on upgrading the basketball courts in the Thomas Jefferson park, East 111th street between 1st avenue and the FDR drive. $300,000 was allocated to that part of the park, the reconstruction has not began, but will take place in the near future. until this decision is made by the city of New York , HBTR will continue to care and maintain the basketball courts in Thomas Jefferson park basketball courts, on East 111th street between 1st avenue and the FDR drive. During our 7 year existence HBTR and the help from 2 sponsors in the past has painted the 2 basketball courts twice, and has made sure that area is clean before and after games are over for the day.

HBTR has build their horizons on additional teams from New Jersey, Westchester N.Y. , Upstate N.Y. and Philadelphia. This has helped HBTR to expand in their 7th year and build towards a strong future.


We have expanded our thinking over the years of a competitive league and teaching our youths the game of basketball. HBTR has given most of their energy towards directing youths on a positive path during their 7 year history. A combine percentage of our youth participates, who participate in our competitive league play, skills and drills camps are 60% African Americans, 30% Latino Americans and 10% White Americans. We are looking to add other ethnic groups to our skills and drills camps and competitive league play in the future. HBTR has also focus more on youth development, we feel youth development is not just about teaching basketball skills, but extending these teaching about life skills, education, health, caring for environment and making positive decisions in life. We as adults must begin to asked our youths, what they may like in life and how they will pursue their goals. Encourage them to pursue their goals, no matter if it is something outside of sports, just as long it is a positive path in life. Adults should not place their personal values, goals or living in the past on young people throughout the world. We as adults would be good value in giving our youth a positive path in life. Sports is a great setting to have our youth involved themselves into something positive and to occupy their time. The sports world is full of good positive people, HBTR is on that huge list of positive people, and would like to move in the direction of having a sports and education program. To move in the direction of adding a education program to HBTR’S sports program, a large facility with gym space and classrooms must be acquired to implement a sufficient sports and education program. Large facility space will give HBTR this access to work throughout the winter months and have a rain site for the summer months. HBTR needs much help in this area of indoor space at this time, and continue to reach out for available space in East Harlem New York.