Congrats to 2015 Cleveland Indians Mentors of the Year: Ned Barnes and Michael Gong from Carroll Ballers


Ned Barnes and Michael Gong started the Carroll Ballers program to help mentor at-risk young people. They’ve been lauded locally and nationally for their efforts — and now they’ve been voted as the 2015 Indians Mentors of the Year.

The second annual contest awards those making . Fans can nominate people for the award, and after finalists are chosen, fans then vote. The duo

From, more on the program:

It was before their sophomore year at John Carroll University that Michael Gong and Ned Barnes formed the John Carroll Ballers. It is a group of more than 60 JCU students who, five nights per week make the trip to the detention center to play basketball, eat pizza, and hold discussions about valued character traits with those in the center. Boys and girls at the detention center receive the students’ attention.

Both Gong and Barnes are now seniors. Gong plans to become a doctor, while Barnes majors in political science, but it is this project that is now their passion.

Gong said the whole idea for John Carroll Ballers began when he worked as a freshman at the detention center as part of the Passport to Manhood program through the Boys and Girls Club of Cleveland.

It was at that time that Gong began to see those in juvenile detention in a different light.

“I thought, ‘Isn’t this an interesting place?'” Gong said of his reaction upon first entering the facility. “After you talk to them, you see they’re all boys with hopes and dreams, just like the rest of us. And, yes, they’ve made mistakes, but haven’t we all?”

Watch Ned and Michael talk about the program below:

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