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NFL to hoop it up

There’s enough talent to fill the Pro Bowl, but the stars of the NFL will hit the basketball court Saturday for charity.

The Peter Warrick Foundation will put on its second annual celebrity basketball game Saturday at 6 p.m. in the Sun Dome to benefit the Bradenton 13th Avenue Community Center. Among the NFL players scheduled to appear are Randy Moss and Daunte Culpepper of the Minnesota Vikings, Plaxico Burress of the Pittsburgh Steelers and former No. 1 overall pick Michael Vick of the Atlanta Falcons. Former Bull Anthony Henry and boxer Roy Jones Jr. were also recently added to the event.

Tickets are priced at $10, with courtside seats going for $50, all to benefit the Peter Warrick Foundation and the 13th Avenue Community Center in Warrick’s hometown of Bradenton.

“It’s just something I wanted to start,” Warrick said. “Give back to my community. (It’s a) little charity fund. It’s just great to show people I didn’t forget where I came from. I used to go there. It’s where I grew up at, where I learned everything at – from football to basketball to playing baseball. I know I have little kids that look up to me, and it’s a great opportunity to show them that I didn’t forget where I came from.”

Learning to play sports at the Community Center, Warrick took those fundamentals to Bradenton’s Southeast High School, where he starred before going on to Florida State and then the NFL for the Cincinnati Bengals. A star wide receiver for the Seminoles, Warrick has corralled numerous other FSU alums to participate in the game including, Buccaneers’ linebacker Derrick Brooks, E.G. Green, Dexter Jackson and New York Jets linebacker Sam Cowart among others.

Expect the competition to get interesting when former Seminoles, like Brooks and Warrick, get on the court with ex-Florida Gators, like Jevon Kearse, Fred Taylor and Darrel Jackson. Add to the mix Miami graduates, like Kenard Lang and Duane Starks, and it should make for an interesting evening.”It’s different now,” Warrick said. “It’s not football, there’s no bad blood. It’s all love. We’re going to keep it strictly basketball. But it’s going to be personal because we (all) hate losing. It’s going to be intense out there. There isn’t going to be anything easy.”

The first game was played last year at Southeast, and Warrick managed to sell out his alma mater’s gym. So this year, he went in search of a larger venue.

“We’re trying to step it up,” Warrick said. “Last year, at Southeast, we had people that couldn’t get in. This year, I was trying to keep it at home, keep it at Bradenton. I tried to get the civic center, but they had something going on that day. So, I had to come to Tampa, and we’re just going trying to sell it out, raise some money for my community center and make it the best.”

The Community Center is a fixture of the Bradenton area, dating back to 1937. The Peter Warrick Foundation is raising money to allow the center to keep offering its many sports programs, as well as contributing to its capital fund to help with expenses.

Patrick Carnegie, executive director for the center, said they managed to bring in thousands for the center through last year’s game.

“Last year, it raised about $8,000, but that was just the start,” Carnegie said. “(We had it) in a high school to test the waters and see how it went. We had to turn away hundreds of people at the door and we really didn’t promote the game at all. This year, because we needed a bigger venue, our relationship with Champ Sports and the Sun Dome allowed us to bring it to Tampa and bring in even more star athletes to make an exciting weekend for everyone.”