Photos by // ILE Photography
Morris Peterson Jr. (Mo Pete) is a champion for the city of Flint. As one example of that, the Morris Peterson Jr. Foundation held a weeklong program during spring break April 2-6 for Flint boys and girls ages 4-17.
According to Flint Mayor Karen Weaver, this program would “eliminate the opportunity for negative behavior.” During the week, students participated in leadership activities, attended workshops, listened to guest speakers and got prepared to attend an Off-Broadway production at the Capitol Theatre on Friday, April 6. Boys & Girls Clubs of Flint and Mott Community College served as venues for the activities.
Mo Pete was a member of the Flintstones, four basketball players from Flint who went on to play basketball at Michigan State University (MSU). Antonio Smith graduated from MSU in 1999, but Peterson, Mateen Cleaves and Charlie Bell led MSU to the NCAA championship in 2000. According to his Wikipedia page, Mo Pete was named Big Ten Player of the Year for the year 2000, and his #42 was eventually retired by MSU. Peterson was the 21st pick in the first round by the Toronto Raptors of the NBA. At 6 feet 7 inches, he played guard/small forward for seven seasons in Toronto, then three years with the New Orleans Hornets (now called the Pelicans), and his final year was with the Oklahoma City Thunder. During his 11-year NBA pro career, he averaged 11 points per game, and that career allowed Mo Pete to establish the Morris Peterson Jr. Foundation to pursue his philanthropic activities.
After retirement Peterson went on to broadcast Toronto basketball games for The Sports Network; he owns a transportation company in Florida and has numerous business interests in the Flint area, including the newly opened bar/restaurant at the Genesee Valley Center, Mo Pete’s Sports Retreat, where he employs over 30 people. The bar’s motto is aptly “Mo Food, Mo Fun, Mo Sports.”
Mo Pete has not forgotten where he came from. Stating “Flint is where my heart is,” he began the Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charity, to give back to Flint. His father and mother are both retired Flint Community Schools educators. Both of his sisters are college graduates, and older sister Tonda is the executive director of the Foundation. Mo Pete graduated from Flint Northwestern High School in 1995 and MSU in 2000 with a degree in child development. He lives in the area, is single and is, as he proudly states, “the father of three sets of twins.”
“Flint is where my heart is.”
– Morris Peterson Jr. (Mo Pete)
Having grown up in Flint, Mo Pete understands Flint’s struggles. “We all have struggles and I understand Flint is going through its moments,” he says.
His Foundation is focused on children and families in Flint by sponsoring many activities and events through monies generated by the Foundation. In the summer, Mo Pete supports three-day basketball camps for boys and girls ages 8-17. In the fall, the Foundation gives over 400 backpacks filled with school supplies to Flint students. At Thanksgiving, the Foundation provides a complete meal to over 150 families, also giving them starter pantry items, bottled water and water filters. The Foundation also provided a water filtration system for Berston Field House and donated many pallets of bottled water to the same. His favorite charity is the dental program, where the Foundation gives free and low-cost dental care for underprivileged youth in Flint.
That’s not all the Foundation does. It collaborates with famous rapper Snoop Dogg to raise money and awareness for Flint’s water crisis. More events with Snoop Dogg are planned in the future. Attached to all events is an educational component where Mo Pete speaks to participants about leadership, values and educational opportunities.
His advice to young people in Flint is “Keep going and get out what you put in; take advantage of all resources and be what you want to be.”
He comments, “I want to thank all who support me, my family, the Foundation and the bar. I appreciate the support and I want to help make Flint great again.” Peterson encourages everyone to donate time, resources and funds to the Morris Peterson Jr. Foundation. Director Tonda Peterson-Bryant can be reached at 888-587-9990 or 810-519-6100, or visit their website at morrispetersonjrfoundation.org.