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Something to Believe In

By Beth Mahr, US LaCrosse, 02/19/18, 12:00PM CST


Through the tough times in Larry’s life - homelessness, pressures on the streets and loss - lacrosse has been there and led him towards better things. 

Larry Mackey was handed a lacrosse stick for the very first time in the seventh grade and had no idea just how big an impact that would have on the rest of his life. 

Larry grew up in the town of Huntington, on Long Island, and was first exposed to the sport by watching Syracuse win its first national championship. In that moment he thought to himself, “I wonder how I could play that?” 

It would be a few years later, in 9th grade, when one of Larry’s best friends asked him to try out for the school lacrosse team. Lacrosse found Larry at a critical time in his life. It was a time when drugs and other pressures were trying to pull him down another path. Lacrosse became the motivation for Larry to do his school work and work hard to maintain his eligibility to stay on the team. His coach played a huge role in holding him accountable on his grades and helping him through some tough points in his life. Larry says, “If not for lacrosse, I wouldn’t have graduated high school.” 

Fast forward a few years and Larry is a U.S. Army veteran living just outside Tacoma, Washington, with a son and daughter, and lacrosse is still leading Larry and his family down new paths. One day on Facebook, Larry saw a post about Uganda Lacrosse and it was a time lacrosse found him again. African history was a big part of Larry’s home life so he knew he wanted to get involved. It was a time when the AIDS epidemic was hitting Uganda and he felt it was the perfect way to honor his late parents, who passed away due to AIDS. 

Larry connected with a young man from Fields of Growth to find a way to get to Uganda and work with the new lacrosse community. He made such an impact there, some suggested that he come back and help coach the Uganda National Team in the 2014 World Championships. 

The community certainly had an impact on him as well. Larry was adopted by a Ugandan man and woman who declared themselves to be his surrogate parents. They showed him around Uganda to really understand the culture and they have given him many parental insights on life. Larry was fortunate to be able to bring his son Hassan with him on his second visit to continue to help grow the sport and introduce it to new people. Larry was also able to introduce Hassan to this surrogate family and to the community that impacted him so significantly.

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