ROXBURY, NJ – The annual Layups 4 Life charity basketball tournament might have outgrown Roxbury High School, said founder Dan Exter.
Exter, a Roxbury High School alumnus who formed the 3-on-3 tournament in 2015, said this year’s event was so successful he might need a bigger venue for 2018. “We had an all-time high of 43 teams participating in this year’s tournament,” Exter said. “We had three teams of players under 18 and - being it was our first year offering it to kids 13 and up - I’ll take that as a good start.”
Exter founded the Layups 4 Life tournament as a way to raise money for Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. He did so after doctors at the hospital successfully treated him when he was diagnosed with leukemia in 2013.
Prior to this year’s event, which took place April 29, Exter’s tournaments raised more than $30,000 for cancer research and clinical trials at Sloan Kettering, according to Exter. Last year’s version brought in more than $18,000 and Exter set a goal of $25,000 for this year.
“Unofficially, on the day of the event alone, we raised more than $4,000,” Exter said. “Going into the event, the fund total was over 17,000. We are still collecting odds and ends. We’re going to keep the donation page open until the end of May or June … We’re now at $21,000 to $22,000.”
Exter said there was a lot of good - and good-natured - competition at the tournament. A highlight, for him, was the attendance of a “group of old guys” who showed up to play. Although they missed the deadline to register, the men found teams that needed extras.
“They filled in and played with some of the young guys,” Exter said. “They held their own … These are guys my grandfather’s age.”
Exter said that, in addition to possibly finding a bigger venue next year, he might opt out of playing ball during the tournament so he can “meet with people, talk with people, thank them for coming out.” He said not playing will be difficult because he really enjoys basketball.
“I love playing the game and playing with some of my old Roxbury High School teammates,” Exter, 31, said.
The Jersey City resident broke down a little when discussing the possibility of moving the tournament out of his old high school. “We need to look for bigger venue,” he said. Just doing so caused Exter to briefly weep. Regaining his composure, his voice still quavering, he continued: “But there is no Layups 4 Life without Roxbury. This tournament will always be founded in Roxbury. Its origins will always be in Roxbury. I’m proud to say we got it started in Roxbury.”
He offered special praise for and Roxbury High School Athletic Director Stuart Mason, saying Mason “opened the door for us since day one” and has “bent over backward to help” Layups 4 Life.
“Without the venue there is no tournament,” Exter said. “Without the support of Stu and the Roxbury faculty and administration, there is no tournament. They helped us raise thousands of dollars.”