Lamont “Disco” Cooper (left) has been playing the annual 3-on-3 basketball tournament since its inception. The former Blacktop Legends standout has switched from player to coach and guides his son, Demarreya Lewis-Cooper, and friends looking for a three-peat this year. (Photo by Mike Daly/Shasta County Sports in 2016)
Growing up in Chicago’s South Side, Lamont “Disco” Cooper knows a thing or two about hoopin’ it up.
And that education served him well, not just on the rough-and-tumble courts of the Windy City, but on the blacktop of the Redding Civic Auditorium and the annual Redding 3-on-3 tournament.
“I’ve got that (Chicago) mentality,” said Cooper who played from the early days of the tournament to just a few years ago. “I saw that there was a tournament, and coming from Chicago thought ‘that’s right up my alley.’ ”
He remembers playing in one of the first years “I wanna say it was ‘98” and how teams would come from up and down the West Coast to compete.
“We got some fellas together – me, Mike Gray, Wendell Sanders – and some others and put a team together called ‘Blacktop Legends,’ ” Cooper said.
And like Disco’s beloved Chicago Bulls, it took a few years for the Blacktop Legends to bring home the ‘ship.
“Man, we finally won one against Ryan Miller and some other guys,” he said. “I remember I did an assist to Wendell, we called him ‘Dub,’ and he hit the game-winner.
“We finally got there, like the Bulls getting past them Detroit Pistons.”
Elevate Camps, a non-profit, is teaming with us at Shasta County Sports as a title sponsor and Lithia Chevrolet to put on the two-day event on June 1-2.
Cooper starred at Chicago’s Martin Luther King High School and went on to play at Northeastern Illinois University (which disbanded athletics in the late 90s). He red-shirted and headed to California, playing at Shasta College under coach Jim Keating.
“Didn’t know Redding was going to be the final destination, but here we are,” he said.
And after basketball, Cooper’s family grew – daughters Ravien Lawson, Alex Cooper, Justyse Cooper and son Demarreya Lewis-Cooper.
All played at Enterprise High – Demarreya will be a sophomore for the Hornets next season after playing varsity as a freshman – and all have played in the 3-on-3 tournament.
MORE INFO: Redding 3 on 3 website
“It’s fun out there watching them play, bouncing from court to court,” said Cooper who runs Licata Catering with his wife, Claudia.
The father hasn’t played in the tournament for a few years – “’13 was my last good year really” – but coaches Demarreya’s team and not just because he gets to see his son in action.
“Coaching my son is great, but being with the other guys who play with him and seeing how he opens up doors for them with his play,” Cooper said. “Last year, we won the title when Demarreya drove and kicked to a teammate for the winning shot.”
Just like his father.
“And we’re going for the three-peat this year,” Cooper said.
Just like his beloved Bulls.
REGISTRATION DEADLINE: May 29
Registration is $175 for a team of 3-5 players until May 20, then the price jumps to $200 before closing sign-ups May 29. Divisions are set by age year from 8/9 to 10-18, adding a 35+ division as well as competitive divisions for adults: top flight male and female and both male over 6-feet and under 6-feet.
A portion of the proceeds go towards helping send kids entering middle school to Elevate Camp’s outdoor summer camp at Lassen Pines. The camp is under-resourced, Alexander said, and this is a chance to send local kids who have never experienced a week-long camp before.
Other sponsors supporting the non-profit’s community-focused mission include WaterWorks Park, Mt. Shasta Spring Water, Welch Enterprises, Kona Ice, Oasis Fun Center, Backyard Escapes Pools and Landscape, Clayton’s Towing, Alexander Creative, Danny Day All-State Insurance, Dan Metz Real Estate Broker, the Jeantet Team of Coldwell Banker C&C Properties and KRCR-TV.
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