Reesie Thompson

Basketball Coach, street mentor for Berkeley


He has a mangled hand from an explosive wound he got while in Iraq in early 2000’s. He can still feel some of the shrapnel shifting around under the skin. Or maybe that’s bone. He has large wise eyes and a wiry body that looks like it’s been through icy winters and hellish summers. Still, there’s a lightness in his limbs that many men in their early 50’s would kill for.


Reesie Thompson’s been around a long time. He’s seen Detroit fall into decay, begin to rise out a little, then fall back into crime and corruption. But he still holds out hope. Young men like Berkeley give him hope that Detroit’s not all-lost. He’s seen too many smart young-folk die on the streets to drugs, to greed, and to random and senseless violence.

Nowadays he hangs out on local basketball courts as a sort of unofficial ref – and he doesn’t just mediate basketball games. Gangs will usually leave the courts alone and those on them, as long as they see Reese. Usually. If the transgression is bad enough, even local icons like Reesie don’t shame dangerous men out for blood. Still, most days, against petty bullying, mugging, and girlfriend/boyfriends spats, Reesie makes a difference. And that matters.

Reesie Thompson

Detroit Heart of Darkness signcontrast