First Person: Why LL Cool J Believes ‘Teamwork Makes the Dream Work’

Every day in the United States millions of kids leave school with no place to go. To help raise awareness about the importance of extracurricular programs and team sports among youth — a cause that is very important to me — I've teamed up with ACE Brand and After-School All-Stars to launch the nationwide contest, ACE Brand "A" Game Challenge.

The contest benefits the national non-profit organization After-School All-Stars, which offers kids a safe and structured environment, giving them the opportunity to participate in team-building activities and encouraging them to lead healthy lifestyles in all areas of their lives — at home, in school, and in the community.

One of the easiest ways to increase confidence and build character is through team sports and physical activity. However, across the country, funding for after school programs and school sports teams is continuously being cut ... particularly at lower-income schools. That is why programs like these are so important. Personally, I didn't have access to these types of after-school programs growing up so I am familiar with the hardships many kids face. Through my involvement in sports — everything from football and basketball to baseball and boxing — I learned the value of teamwork and camaraderie.

I’ve seen firsthand the positive impact group activities and team sports have on our youth through my work with After-School All-Stars as well as the Jump & Ball Tournament, an annual basketball tournament and summer camp that I established almost 10 years ago in my hometown of St. Albans, Queens.

As a father myself, I know it is vital for kids to not only get a good education but to also have access to programs that offer a dual benefit of enriching their lives outside of school while also keeping them off the streets.

I am really excited to celebrate the launch of ACE Brand Sports Medicine Products — a new line of products designed to help keep athletes at the top of their game — by kicking off the ACE Brand "A" Game Challenge. The contest celebrates young athletes and their accomplishments and now through November 15, kids ages 13-24 are invited to submit videos of their "A" game featuring one-of-a-kind winning moments in sports on There are a series of great prizes, including a $10,000 scholarship cash prize.

Our country is filled with talented and aspiring young athletes and I can't wait to see their winning moments! I am happy to lend my hand to such an important cause and, as I always say, "Teamwork makes the dream work."

Share your "A" game with LL Cool J here.