LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — Sports fans love to rave about Jerry Eaves and the things he says on his local radio talk show.
Too negative. Always critical. Never satisfied.
“I’m Darth Vader,” Eaves said with a smile.
Sorry, Jerry. For this story, Oprah Winfrey is a better comparison. But instead of cars, Eaves works to give away homes.
Over the next 10 days, two of Eaves’ former Simmons College of Kentucky basketball players will move into sparkling, renovated homes on the 1100 block of South 28th Street, where Eaves, several local businessmen, Simmons College and Park Community Credit Union have the work more than two years to provide.
They will make no down payment beyond earning their degrees from Simmons and completing courses in personal finance.
If they stay in the homes for at least 10 years, they become home owners with the entire equity capital. Both properties have more than 1,200 square feet of living space in the Parkland neighborhood, which is anticipating a rebirth with plans for the $40 million Norton Healthcare Goodwill Opportunity Campus at Broadway and 28th Street.
Eaves and his partners want to rejuvenate the area. After the upgrades, both homes will likely be valued at more than $150,000.
“Give the west end an opportunity to be like the east end or the southeast, all the other places that people think are places they want to live,” Eaves said.
One of the first two players to move into a home will be James Mosley, a three-year starter for Eaves at Simmons. Eaves said Mosley currently pays $950 a month to rent a two-bedroom apartment. Eaves said he was optimistic that Mosley’s house payment on South 28th Street would be closer to $600 and he would have a yard as well as the other benefits of home ownership.
Remember this about Eaves: He played on a Kentucky high school championship team at Ballard High School. He started alongside Darrell Griffith as a guard on the University of Louisville’s NCAA title team in 1980. He played parts of four seasons in the NBA, scoring 35 points on Isiah Thomas and the Detroit Pistons as a rookie in 1983. He finished his basketball career overseas . Eaves has been a college basketball assistant coach at Louisville, head coach at North Carolina A&T and an NBA assistant for three franchises. He has led the program at Simmons since 2015.
Eaves speaks clearly and forcefully on hot topics during his one-hour radio show, which airs at noon Monday-Friday at 1080, WKJK, in Louisville. Not just basketball. Not just sports.
But this is different. This doesn’t talk. This is do.
“The sports piece, I’ll be honest with you: I love it, but I’m tired of it,” Eaves said Tuesday morning outside one of the properties. “The sports piece has used African-American men and women to believe that the only way and the only reason they’re doing this is to get to the NBA. And there’s only 450-500 players.
“It’s just ridiculous. But that’s where this started.
“So I wanted to change the concept that athletics is for a reason, (to develop) a tax-paying citizen who understands what’s going on in the world and to try to be a better person, not just be a better athlete , where we are stuck.”
Eaves has always credited his parents for driving the message of education, community service and making wise financial decisions home to him and his siblings. He firmly believes that ownership is an essential component of being a responsible adult. The project has been encouraged by Dr. Kevin W. Cosby, senior pastor at St. Stephen Baptist Church.
This is his opportunity to pass on the message in a program he hopes will grow to provide at least a half-dozen homes for Simmons graduates each year. He said he will follow up with his players to discuss financial literacy, home maintenance, decorating and cooking.
Eaves said he started talking to his players about the program several years ago. During the summer of 2020, as COVID-19 and protests over the shooting death of Breonna Taylor led to uncertainty and discord across Louisville, Eaves developed a relationship with local businessman Frank Harshaw of Harshaw Associates and Richard Pickren of H2H (House to Home).
What could they do to make a difference?
After a series of discussions, this idea emerged as their answer: to provide quality housing for Simmons graduates.
All three men have invested in the project. They recruited Tony Silver of Red Door Properties to find houses and then remodel them. They convinced city officials that they weren’t trying to flip houses for a profit.
“It’s a great program,” Silver said. “This house would have been a smaller rental. It wasn’t.”
Like this, of course, is a remodeled first-floor master suite with a deep walk-in closet and modern bathroom fixtures. The kitchen was freshened up with new cabinets and paint leading into a hallway with laundry room tucked near the back entrance. The living room opens into a stairwell that leads you to two more bedrooms as well as a family room and 1 1/2 bathrooms. There is a security system, upgraded HVAC and high speed internet with a wireless router.
“I would have loved to have a place like this when I was 24 or 25 years old,” Eaves said.
Now two of his Simmons players will have homes on the same block. This is the beginning. The plan is to try to make at least half a dozen available to athletes who graduate from Simmons each year,
“I started talking to (his players) about this about two years ago,” Eaves said. “They couldn’t imagine it because they had never seen it. They had lived in apartments all their lives.
“But now that the houses are starting to be ready, you can see them starting to understand the magnitude of what’s going to happen to their lives.”
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