“For me, it’s one, growing up and not having that. And then becoming a parent and realizing that my kids are of mixed race and you know, how do I get them to see something that they’ve never seen before,” he said. “And so with that, I felt a responsibility to nurture this opportunity for the celebration of culture, the celebration of inclusion, through storytelling. So Black Santa was my first entryway into it, and I think that having someone like Black Santa gives me the responsibility to be able to connect with artists and writers and storytellers and designers to come up with a concept and a character that everybody can share.”
Before the start of the game, food trucks in front of the gymnasium served attendees while a carnival in the back courtyard provided younger guests with booth games such as balloon darts and a milk bottle toss. Black Santa merchandise, such as T-shirts and wrapping paper, was displayed for sale in the concession stand near the court.
The celebrities were in the locker rooms preparing for the game — players were split into North Pole and South Pole teams, donning white and black jerseys, respectively. Tyga and Casey Veggies represented the North Pole while the South Pole team featured actors such as Demetrius Shipp Jr., who played Tupac in the 2017 biopic All Eyez on Me and JD McCrary, who voices young Simba in the upcoming live-action Lion King.
Davis said he wanted the annual basketball game to feel like a celebration: “I wanted to do something for the community that felt like a holiday party. And something that the rap community, and music, entertainment, basketball, everybody can participate — something that the community can dive into and we can all enjoy.” he said.
In between the 10-minute quarters, R&B quintet Next Town Down gave a halftime performance as teams recuperated on the benches. Just before the end of the game, Davis presented the principal of University High School Charter with a check for $6,100 as a donation to their athletics department.
This article originally appeared in THR.com.