Tragedy drives St. Paul 21-year-old to bring community together through basketball

April 14, 2023, was a day that changed Khadar Greer’s life.

Greer’s cousin, who he thought of as his big brother, lost his life in a shooting.

Greer, now 21, asked himself, “What do I want to do next?” And he decided: “Make my community proud” by continuing to spread a message of violence prevention.

Weeks earlier, in March 2023, Greer hosted the Stop the Violence Basketball Event he created in St. Paul. He thought it would be a one-time gathering, but the homicide of his cousin led Greer to decide it should be an annual event. The next gathering will be Saturday, May 11, in St. Paul.

Greer, a lifelong St. Paul resident, is being noticed by community leaders as a young person making a difference.

He’s “reminding us of the importance of togetherness and wanting to give our babies an opportunity and a sense of hope. There’s a lot of us that want to see our young folks prosper and have that type of energy,” said Johnny Allen Jr., executive director of the JK Movement, the nonprofit that operates and manages the Jimmy Lee Recreation Center at the Oxford Community Center.

Now in college and working with kids

Greer grew up in the Rondo neighborhood, the youngest of Rose George-Greer and Paul Greer’s two children. He saw his parents in community-oriented careers: George-Greer is in her 31st year at the St. Paul Public Schools and works with special-education students. Paul Greer formerly owned a barber shop and now works in the mental health field with young people in juvenile detention.

Basketball is Khadar (pronounced “kah-DAR”) Greer’s favorite sport. He started playing when he was 5 and became a point guard, playing junior varsity at Como Park Senior High School and varsity at Highland Park Senior High School.

Greer graduated in 2021 and he’s in college now for graphic design. He hopes to find a career that will allow him to continue bringing the community together for events.

He works for St. Paul Public Schools’ Discovery Club, at the after-school program for elementary students.

“He tells me: Dad, I see what you mean when you say, ‘These are my kids,'” Paul Greer said of his son also connecting to kids at his work. “I say: Now you see why I care so much about these kids.”

Another tragedy led to first community basketball event

Greer organized his first community basketball event last year after another tragedy.

His friend Johntae Hudson, a 19-year-old St. Paul resident, was tackled at the Mall of America and fatally shot at point-blank range just before Christmas in 2022. Two teens were charged with murder and one has pleaded guilty.

“When Khadar first lost his friend at the mall, the first thing he said was, ‘I have to do something to bring this community together,'” George-Greer said. “It wasn’t a second thought.”

Greer got to work and organized the Stop the Violence Basketball Event last March at Jimmy Lee Rec Center. Hundreds of people attended, Allen said.

His cousin in Chicago, Jeff Jackson, told him afterward that he should keep it going, though Greer was initially undecided. But when Jackson was killed on April 14, 2023, Greer decided he should continue the event for the 32-year-old, who he said was a great basketball player.

Jackson was one of the people who Greer was closest with and someone he talked to daily.

“He was that person in my ear that always kept me calm whenever I felt down about something … he was always that person I could go to for advice,” Greer said.

Basketball, entertainment, fun

For Saturday’s free event, Greer has arranged for a magic show, dancers, vendors who will sell food, a dunking contest, three-point contest and more.

The first basketball game of the day will be for teenagers, which Greer said will allow them to showcase their skills for middle school and high school coaches. The second will be a community game for adults. The last game will be a face-off between elementary school-age kids and St. Paul police officers.

“At the end of the day, a lot of kids don’t really have a lot of outlets and I just want to be that outlet for them,” Greer said. “It’s really just giving the community a chance to have fun,” Greer said.

There will be tables set up with information about community resources, including financial literacy and leadership programming for youth and families.

“Those resources are aimed at the root causes” of violence, said Rashad Turner, the event’s emcee, who will coach one of the basketball games and is also president of Minnesota Parent Union.

Andrew Tyler, Greer’s uncle, said he’d like to see corporate sponsors supporting the event and panel discussions about overcoming systemic racism and poverty to get to underlying causes of violence. He’s proud of his nephew’s work and understands that Greer is from a new generation that grew up when the country had its first Black president.

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“Khadar’s a very strong Black man, coming from a generation of survivors in America,” Tyler said. “He’s here to make a difference.”

There will also be therapists at the event with a message of community healing: “It’s OK to talk to people and not keep everything bottled up,” George-Greer said.

George-Greer lost her own mother to violence. Magdaline George was killed on George-Greer’s 16th birthday in St. Paul in 1990. George-Greer found her mother’s body in a closet of their apartment the following day. Her homicide remains unsolved.

Though George-Greer found a support group for families of homicide victims, she sees support for people affected by trauma as more widespread now.

Community building

Basketball is a way to get people together, and the violence-prevention piece comes from building connections, Greer said.

“I think being active with your community is one of the best things to build something,” he added. “I’m trying to build a bond as a community.”

Allen and Turner also grew up in the Rondo neighborhood, and they remember it as a village of people looking out for each other. “Everyone knew everyone. And everyone knew everyone’s family,” Allen said.

There was a liquor store and bar near Allen’s home and if anyone saw him around those places when he was an adolescent, they asked, “What are you doing over here?”

“It’s that type of community sense and relationship that we’re trying to bring back,” Allen said.

While Turner and Allen have been doing that work from their organizations, they said they love seeing the next generation take up the cause and hope people are inspired by Greer to also do so.

“Tragic situations led to his passion, but he’s using that as fuel to show positive outcomes and positive opportunities for our young folks,” Allen said. Greer’s event planning and skills in networking also show young people that “whatever you set your mind to, you can achieve it,” Allen added.

For Greer’s parents, they always imagined big things for him.

When George-Greer was pregnant, Paul Greer felt his unborn son kick and he said, “That was so powerful.” When he was looking in a baby-name book for ideas, he saw, “Khadar,” meaning powerful.

“Fast forward, here’s Khadar trying to move things forward, make a movement, make growth and try to bring a community together at 21 years old,” Paul Greer said.

Stop the Violence Basketball Event

  • When: 11:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, May 11. Brodini the Magician will perform first, before the games.

  • Where: Jimmy Lee Rec Center, 270 N. Lexington Pkwy., St. Paul.

  • Sign up: People who want to play in a game should fill out the contact form by Monday on Khadar Greer’s website,, and indicate what game they want to play in. If space is available, signups may be available on site.

  • Cost: There is no charge to attend the event, which Greer funds through donations and his own paychecks. The nonprofit JK Movement accepts donations on Greer’s behalf for the event at (note the basketball event in the “Public Message of Support” part for online contributions).

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