NBA Tyrus Thomas’ “Sneakers and Suits” Benefit Gala Supports LSU Black Male Leadership Initiative

09/11/2012 12:32 PM

BATON ROUGE – The LSU Black Male Leadership Initiative, or BMLI, Fellows Program kicked off the fall semester by attending “Sneakers and Suits,” a benefit gala hosted on Saturday, Aug. 18, by the Tyrus Thomas Foundation and LSU.


The Tyrus Thomas Foundation is a nonprofit organization founded by former LSU basketball player and current member of the NBA’s Charlotte Bobcats Tyrus Thomas and is aimed at youth outreach and community development.


This year’s event was held at the Camelot Club in downtown Baton Rouge and featured a photo booth, live band, silent auction and a variety of casino-themed games, with attendees donning traditional formal wear paired with sneakers, a recognition of Thomas’ basketball career.  “Sneakers and Suits” was held in conjunction with Thomas’ birthday, which consisted of a weekend of events.


“The ‘Sneakers and Suits Gala’ was an unforgettable event that allowed me to network with leaders and professionals in our local community, peers and BMLI supporters,” said BMLI Fellow Ramon Hardy. 


The event benefited the Tyrus Thomas Foundation, which was founded in 2009 to cultivate and improve the Greater Baton Rouge, Charlotte and Chicago communities through promoting community development and supporting other organizations with similar initiatives and goals.


The Tyrus Thomas Foundation partnered with BMLI to support the initiatives mission of improving the recruitment, retention, graduation and participation rates for black male students through mentoring, leadership development and academic support.


“We are thankful for the contributions of the Tyrus Thomas Foundation. With its support, we continue to provide quality academic assistance as well as leadership and professional development programs to our fellows,” said BMLI Graduate Coordinator Vincent Harris.


The BMLI Fellows Program began in spring 2010 and includes 25-30 sophomores and juniors, and is an initiative of the LSU Office of Equity, Diversity & Community Outreach and the Office of Multicultural Affairs. Co-directors Marco Barker, assistant to the vice provost and director of educational equity, and Chaunda Allen, director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs, along with Harris and graduate intern Ray James, operate the BMLI Fellows Program.


For more information on BMLI, or to support BMLI through the Power of 50 annual fund campaign, email or visit the BMLI website at


To learn more about the Tyrus Thomas Foundation, visit For volunteer opportunities in Baton Rouge, email

Melissa  Foley 
LSU Media Relations

Posted on Tuesday, September 11, 2012