Best Place to be Like Mike

Midtown Sports and Activity Center

Street basketball players don't ask for much -- just a flat rectangle of asphalt, two sturdy backboards and hoops 10 feet off the ground. It's an amazingly tough bill to fill. Enter Chris Harris, a 33-year-old who grew up on street ball in Kansas City, played college ball at Penn Valley Community College and in Milwaukee and has a mission to turn his neighborhood into an athletic empire called the Midtown Sports and Activity Center. He started with the basketball court two years ago, and he has added volleyball, horseshoes and minigolf. He's gone nonprofit and is trying to raise $3.5 million for a tennis court, batting cages and a building with classrooms and restrooms. He hosts tournaments and lets people play for free. Harris says vandals leave the sports installations alone because they're the pride of the rundown neighborhood. "Whoa, this don't even belong here," says Harris of folks' reaction to the facility. "That's why they respect it so much."

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