Michael Bivins, part of the band New Edition and the Biv in Bell Biv Devoe, returned to his home neighborhood of Roxbury Thursday to have a basketball court dedicated to him.
Though Bivins’s claim to fame came through music, basketball has been a passion of his since he was young.
“New Edition was my ticket out of Orchard Park, but ‘ball was my first love,” Bivins said Thursday, referring to the Boston Housing Authority housing development where he grew up.
Bivins said he fondly remembers everyone he met shooting hoops in and around Boston. He said his mother would always tell him, “if you need to release some stress, go play ball.”
Though Bivins became a household name nation-wide, his love for Roxbury never died.
“Michael grew up playing here and then he went on to represent Boston on a world stage,” Mayor Martin J. Walsh said. “When New Edition came out, that was my generation. We were proud of New Edition because they were from Boston.”
Walsh said Bivins grew up playing on basketball courts around the city, but especially at Ramsay Park on Washington Street where he has hosted an annual basketball tournament.
Bivins is “someone who grew up playing sports in our parks, someone who understands the importance of making sure that we provide opportunities for our young kids, so they can have a future,” Walsh said. “This is a man who left the neighborhood, never forgot the neighborhood, is coming full circle back to the neighborhood, and gives back every single day.”
The ceremony also highlighted the renovations that Ramsay Park, which is home to the new Michael L. Bivins Court, will see in the coming years. Walsh said the $2 million effort was sparked by a meeting he had with some neighborhood “kids.’’
“I came to a coffee hour here last year and some of the kids grabbed me on the other side of the hoops here. They started talking about the park and we started to talk about how do we make the park better,” Walsh said. “This park is going to get a full $2 million renovation and it all started with those kids down there. It’s great to see our young people invested in our city.”
Bivins said Thursday he was pleased to be back in his Roxbury neighborhood.
“I never thought I would have left the ‘hood singing ‘Candy Girl’ and would have came back to the ‘hood with a basketball court,” Bivins said.
Olivia Quintana can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @oliviasquintana.