Former Detroit mayor, NBA Hall-of-Famer and Detroit Piston legend, Dave Bing, continues to make a difference. While he was the master of dishing out assists during his storied twelve-year NBA career (including ten with the Pistons), Bing continues to help young people from across the city of Detroit and beyond.
And as Detroit’s mayor from May, 2009, through December, 2013, Bing was credited for being a calming leader and voice coming out of one of the most turbulent periods in the city’s history.
In fact, Bing called his tenure as mayor “a very tumultuous 4 1/2 years of my life”. However, he said if he had to do it over again, he would.
Many believe that much of the economic development currently taking place across the city started under his administration and he’s quick to recognize his team for their hard work and dedication.
In recognizing the value of his team, Bing said, “It was the administration and I, as the mayor at that point in time and without the team I had, a lot of things would not be happening today.”
He continued, “I had a great team with me and I am glad, we together, made a positive impact on the turnaround of the city.”
Now that he’s a term removed from being mayor, I asked him for for his perspective on the city he once led. Bing notes the steady progress of Detroit but believes the city still has a ways to go–specifically, pockets of the city are doing better, but neighborhood stabilization and development are key issues which still need to be addressed because that’s where the majority of Detroiters live.
He flatly states, “Some neighborhoods, no matter how much money you put there, they are not going to come back.” However, he notes the city has made progress but believes Detroit is still 10-20 years away from finally realizing its total comeback.
What will it take?
Bing believes business engagement and involvement will be key to neighborhood revitalization efforts. However, when it comes to private investment, there needs to be an understanding of required funding balanced with population density. As has been well-documented, Detroit’s decline didn’t happen overnight, but over a period of five plus decades and consequently, it will take many more years for the city to bounce back.
Since stepping away from the mayor’s office, Bing has devoted his time to help young people succeed through his mentoring initiative–BINGO, which stands for “Boys Inspired through Nurturing, Growth & Opportunities ” and is part of the Bing Youth Institute (BYI).
Its primary mission is to enhance the lives of Detroit-area youth through mentoring, academic support and recreational opportunities.
BINGO uses four key components to prepare urban young men for productive and successful lives: One-on-one Mentoring, Social Emotional Learning, Educational and Social Outings and Mentee Leadership Forums.
“I’ve been blessed with good health and as I was leaving office, I saw how desperate how people were for need and support.” Bing continues, “We were losing so many of our young people to various issues and many young (African-American) boys needed male support.”
When the program began in 2014, there were four schools and forty mentors. Since its inception, more than 90% of mentors and mentees continue to participate and for 2017-2018, BINGO has matched more than hundred African-American male mentors with over one hundred young men of color from twenty-one Detroit-area schools.
Finally, because of the “lack of a Dad or a man in a boy’s life”, Bing believes the biggest challenge is “to get more involved with the lives of boys–whether in the schools and in the homes.”
And this is the one assist we can all share in and win.