INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Pacers and the IMPD CARES program are reaching out to young people to invest in their futures.
"We need everybody to step up, step up to the plate to help out community. Our kids are dying, and they are dying at a young age," said Sgt. Deon Harris.
Through haircuts and pizza, more groups are creating a space for youth to talk.
"Fresh line, fresh haircut, build your confidence. It gets your day going and get you started," said KJ Hicks, Owner of Faded Dreams Barber Salon. "The barbershop is probably one of the best places to be for men in our community to just open up and have a free conversation,"
Pacers forward Jalen “Stix” Smith. along with the Indiana Fever’s Danielle Robinson and Emily Engstler surprised the group of teens Monday night.
"Honestly, I just showed up. I just came for the talk. I didn't expect no athletes to show up," said Koandre Cherry, 16.
"What we talk about in here, stays in here," said Richie Smith, Associate Director of Community Relations at Pacers Sports & Entertainment.
The players poured into topics like peer pressure, life obstacles and rising above all to be successful.
"I wish I had these opportunities growing up. For them to be engaging like that — usually, you sit around and everybody is shy. They were a little bit at first, but after that I think they really opened up," said Robinson.
"One thing I said to them, everything in life requires work. I feel as though it stuck with a lot of them because they understand they can't just coast through life," said Smith.
Smith's "Kicking with Stix" organization helps mentor youth, allowing them to look beyond limits to become their best self.
"If I'm able to impact their life, to give them some sort of glimpse of hope or opportunity of coming out of here, that's the best I can say. Me growing up in similar situations as they did, who's not best to talk to them than someone who actually succeeded out of this, that's me," said Smith.
The Pacers laid out some goals for the kids to reach. If the kids reach those goals, they'll not only receive a new pair of shoes, but they could be in store for a huge surprise at the Fieldhouse.