Sam Shields hoops tournament tips off today

SARASOTA — Sam Shields wants to stay close to the NFL receivers he covers. But as a youth growing up in Sarasota, he was even closer to the Robert L. Taylor Community Center.

The former Booker High star and current Green Bay Packers cornerback is lending his name to the Sam “Sticky” Shields Basketball Tournament, set for today and Saturday at the center, at 1845 34th St.

Shields spent much of his youth at Robert Taylor, and now that he’s established himself in the league, finds time to give back.

“He’s always here, doing positive for the young kids, working with our kids,” said Arthur Larkins, a supervisor at the Center. “Helping them with things they don’t even know it’s him helping — getting them shoes, clothes for school. Filling the gap where some of the parents aren’t in the gap.”

The tournament will attract teams comprised of players age 18 and up from Tampa, Palmetto, Bradenton and Sarasota, all competing for a first-place prize of $2,000. Larkins said Shields will be in attendance Saturday to hand out the money.

All the teams are guaranteed at least two games. Play starts with two games tonight at 6 and 7. The losers of those contests will play on Saturday morning, with the title game set for Saturday night.

Among the players scheduled to participate are former Riverview High and Central Florida star Tony Davis.

Larkins hopes the tournamentstarts a yearly tradition “where it will grow.” All proceeds will benefit the youth programs at the Robert L. Taylor Community Center.

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