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Scummy Move Of The Year: Stealing Money From Youth Basketball Players

This is what I'd like to call a downer, so apologies ahead of time.

A Washington Post story describes a homeless man, James Russell, with a dream of creating a youth basketball league in a poverty-stricken area of D.C. in order to keep kids out of trouble. The kicker was that the league would be run by the homeless, enabling them to make a little money while enacting some positive change in the community.

Well, dreams be dashed, because Russell didn't turn out to be too trustworthy a commissioner, skipping town with up to $1,000 worth of $50 fees required for uniforms and referees. The worst part? Many of the kids had trouble putting together that kind of money:

Many of the 60 or so players, mostly ages 16 to 25, come from poor families in this largely black neighborhood. They had paid Russell with money scraped together from part-time jobs or from parents who couldn't afford to waste money on their children's hoop dreams but did it anyway.

When tracked down for this story, Russell didn't seem very sincere in his apology:

"I'm sorry for the way it ended up. I've turned over a new leaf. I've given up doing leagues. As soon as I get back on my feet, I'm going to get the money back to them, okay?" Then he hung up.

It's hard for me to judge the situation, especially when I'm not entirely aware of Russell's circumstances other than the fact that he was indeed homeless. And a desperate man will do crazy things sometimes.

But this just...sucks. And that's all there is to it.

"I had my hopes and dreams on this league," said Caleb Swann, 19, who has spent his year after high school bouncing from job to job, barely getting by. "He said he was doing this for us, to teach us stuff and get better. But, you know, the only thing I learned is that you can't trust nobody."