NBA Retired Players and Wives 1st Annual Tea Party Review – A Crucial Matter

The National Basketball Retired Players Association (NBRPA) - Atlanta Chapter, wives, Wellspring Living and other community supporters - Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth
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Every day there are little girls, boys and young adults that fall victim to sex trafficking. The average person is not aware of the shocking events related to sex trafficking, which is happening all over the world. It is terribly upsetting that Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in Atlanta, Georgia ranks #1 in sex trafficking because flights are constantly coming in and going out. Statistics show that 100,000-300,000 American-born children are exploited annually in the United States.

In an attempt to correct this situation in some way, the National Basketball Associate Retired Players (NBARP) – Atlanta Chapter and their wives held their first Annual Tea Party with a Purpose to benefit Wellspring Living Organization on Sunday, August 12, 2018. Wellspring Living serves victims of sex trafficking (ages 12-25) by offering therapy, life skills, personalized education, career development, housing and so much more. Donations are always welcome.

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The NBRPA – Atlanta Chapter and wives organized this prestigious event that consisted of many supporters from local businesses, communities, faith non-profit leaders and others.

Ms. Angela Daughtry, the keynote speaker is welcomed by NBRPA LaVon Mercer – Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth

The keynote speaker, Ms. Angela Daughtry, Board of Directors, Vice President of Savannah Working Against Human Trafficking (SWAHT) delivered a moving and informative speech on human trafficking. The room was so quiet you could hear a pin drop while she had the entire audience’s undivided attention. The event served as a badly needed teachable moment to bring awareness to this disturbing worldwide problem.

Many youths get involved because some want to grow up fast and disobey their parents while other youths are mistreated by parents or other family members making them want to leave home. Sometimes, something as simple as never being told they are beautiful is the start of these youngsters being setup to be preyed on. Once they are approached by a stranger with alternative motives telling them they are beautiful for the first time, they welcome the attention and compliments. Then, they begin to fall victim to sex trafficking. To hear these compliments, it makes them perk up and start feeling good about themselves, not knowing they are on a road to destruction and exploitation.

We heard from a survivor whose life became difficult, because her parents didn’t encourage her, they didn’t explain what sex was, they didn’t give her the attention she needed, leading to a family member taking advantage of her. She had to learn everything on her own. Once she was involved with sex trafficking, it seemed it was too late. One thing led to another, which eventually led to drugs and a more miserable life.

Girlz World – Princess Spa & Party Palace for Girlz 4 – 13 years – Call 1-833-girl-spa or or [email protected] –One of the raffle categories- Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth

However, when God and Wellspring Living Organization came into her life and other victim’s lives, they were transformed from victims to survivors. The NBRPA – Atlanta Chapter and their wives were passionate about doing something to impact the lives of defenseless sex trafficking victims. They decided to host a Tea Party with a Purpose to help the fight against this tragic epidemic that is destroying the fabric of our society.

This subject matter is very real!!! Just last week, a man and his family received a ride in a chauffeured Cadillac Escalade while in New York. He noticed in the back seat area a small cage covered with a blanket. At first he couldn’t believe what he was seeing but when he saw the blanket move he thought he saw a small blonde ponytail woman’s face. He questioned the driver and the driver said there is nothing back there.

In the end, the driver left with the cage in the back but a police call should have been made immediately without the driver knowing what was happening. That family did attempt actions after the vehicle was gone but you have to take immediate and appropriate actions at that moment.

Carita Johnson thanking everyone and speaking on behalf of the NBRPA and wives “Beside (not behind) every good man is a good woman” – Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth

Yes, there were serious, heartfelt moments at the Tea Party but those moments were balanced with entertainment, laughter and fun, all for a good cause. We had a Mary Kay Cosmetic Representative April Nixon Morgan, Raffle Drawings, a Live Auction, a Tea Cup Competition and the Hat Walk Competition that allowed all the ladies to “strut their stuff” while the NBRPA and special guests were the judges. It was great seeing the women walk with attitudes and the crowd cheering for the contestants. We were really enjoying ourselves but remembering this was a “fundraiser”.

The elegant ladies with their fancy hats and the distinguish gentlemen looking their best – Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth
Dale Ellis, NBRPA-Atlanta Chapter President and John Shulman, the Event Auctioneer; former head Men’s Basketball Coach at University of Tennessee-Chattanooga (Conference Tournament Champions 2005 & 2009) and former Director of Community Outreach and Head Coach at McCallie High School (Chattanooga, TN) – Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth
NBA – Jim Washington, Gary Hunter – International Photographer for former President Barack Obama; Publisher for the Detroit Media and “The Shot News”; Thomas McCants, the Auction Receiver of the Barack and Michelle Obama photos and NBA-Dale Ellis – Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth
Reggie Johnson, Afsaneh-Sam Threeths (Tea Cup Competition Winner), Cordia Starling and Marcus Starling enjoying the evening – Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth
Dr. Jacqueline “Jackie” Walters, MD: Obstetrician-Gynecologist (OB/GYN); a 2x Breast Cancer Survivor; TV Star on “Married to Medicine” and “Kandi Koated Nights” – Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth
The Hat Competition Winner, Ms. Ja Nyah Franks wearing the Custom Hat by Jean Caree (Carita Johnson) – Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth

Following this event, I talked with several individuals. Dale Ellis, the NBPRA – Atlanta’s President said, “I was very excited, pleasantly surprised at this event. The turnout to support Wellspring Living was just beautiful”. Dale’s wife, Daffney was by his side, “I felt great about the event, so proud of the wives and myself that we did this knowing it was our first Tea Party with a Purpose. It was really nice and we were glad our husbands trusted us enough to move forward with this event. They really supported us which was a beautiful thing for the NBRPA to come together with their wives”.

Diedra Toney (wife of NBRPA- Sedric), Daffney Ellis (sitting) and President Dale Ellis being supportive of his wife and this great fundraiser – Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth

Harold Keeling enthusiastically said, “I just loved the atmosphere this evening, this was totally different from our previous basketball game fundraisers”. His wife Michelle, added, “This was a classy, very informative, educational, fulfilling event. It brought beautiful people together which made it an awesome event and everyone enjoyed themselves. We reached people this evening and they know we need the community to make a difference in this sex trafficking problem”.

Michelle Keeling, Dr. Jackie Walters from the TV Show “Married to Medicine” and Harold Keeling – Photo Courtesy of Harold Keeling

Sedric Toney was proud to say, “I think it was a great event. It was very classy and I think the women did a great job pulling this across the finish line with great expectations for the future.” Mrs. Diedra Toney, his wife was very impressed saying, “It was really nice but I was overwhelmed of the statistics and information that was relayed to us. Definitely, I look forward doing this next year”.

Reggie Johnson, another NBRPA member excitedly said, “The best event we ever done. We had lots of participation, and it was a great, fun event for a good cause”. Reggie’s wife, Carita proudly said, “It was a very successful, elegant event; tastefully done and it really painted a clear picture of the charitable involvement the NBRPA has in the community”.

Reggie Johnson, Carita Johnson and Rickie Clements – Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth
Robb Pitts, Chairman of Fulton County Commissioner (Atlanta) who spoke to the audience how he is passing Human Trafficking Laws – Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth

Jim Washington, the true NBA Veteran of our organization says, “It was an awesome event and the wives did an awesome job. I’m looking forward for more future events”.

I was very impressed and thankful to see how the NBRPA husbands supported their wives and enthusiastically assisted them in any way that was requested. I noted how effectively the NBRPA communicated with all those that came and participated in this special event. Yes, there was a lot of laughter but everyone remembered the National Basketball Retired Players Association (NBRPA) and their wives hosted this Tea Party with a Purpose to make everyone aware Sex Trafficking is very real and destroying too many lives so rapidly. We will see everyone next year for the 2nd Annual event.

The NBRPA – Atlanta Chapter: Sylvia Weddington (Executive Administrative), Rickie Clements, Dale Ellis, Renee Sudderth (Co-Executive Administrative) Carita Johnson, Jim Washington, Reggie Johnson, Michelle Keeling, Harold Keeling, Diedra Toney and Sedric Toney – Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth
Fernandez Anderson, Reggie Johnson, Kevin Harris, Mrs. Donna Gant Oden, Sedric Toney, Dale Ellis, Harold Keeling will be working together on future community activities – Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth
NBRPA-Atlanta Chapter – Curtis Berry, Reggie Johnson, Dale Ellis, Harold Keeling, Sedric Toney and LaVon Mercer – Photo Courtesy of Renee Sudderth
UNIVERSITY OF TENNESSEE AFFILIATION – Dale Ellis-UT/NBA Legend, Renee Sudderth-United States Air Force (Retired), Sonya Jenkins-Sonya’s Spotlight Web Magazine & Actress, Fernandez Anderson-Millennium’s CSSC Senior Settlement Consultant and Reggie Johnson-UT/NBA Champion (Philadelphia)

So please remember, “Be the Light of Change to end Human Trafficking. Store in your mobile device and be ready to call the National Hotline 1-888-373-7888 or Text: HELP to BEFREE (233733)” Also, make sure you learn to recognize the Warning Signs from a sex trafficking victim.

Memorize these Warning Signs, they could save lives and stay alert

humantraffickinghotline website


  1. CAROLINE TATE – August 24, 2018 – Via TEXT – Outstanding article, very informative. I did not know the facts about human sex trafficking. It is amazing that these things are happening in our country. Well done!! I can’t wait for your next article!!!

  2. HAROLD KEELING – August 24, 2018 – Via FACEBOOK – Excellent article Renee…I had such a Great Time ! Next Year will be bigger and Better !

  3. SHARON HAYES-TERRELL – August 24, 2018 – Via EMAIL – I’m so sorry that I missed this occasion. Maybe I’ll be prepared next year!

  4. SIP JACKSON – August 22, 2018 – VIA FACEBOOK – I enjoyed reading the article. Great job Renee Sudderth

  5. RUBY J MANUEL ARLINE – August 23, 2018 – VIA FACEBOOK – You are a phenomenal journalist; love the article! ? ?

  6. C.C. – August 23, 2018 – VIA PHONE – Excellent! So well written with a great purpose. You showed out.

  7. J. DARDEN – August 22, 2018 – VIA EMAIL – Great article and really good pictures of everybody at the event. Love the big hats!!!

  8. I applaud you! Very good job a nice article. The more help, the better because it’s a serious matter that never seems to get resolved. You shine the light brightly on all articles I read from you. You are amazing & keep up the great work!

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