Detroit Lions vs. Lansing Firefighters All-Stars

>> 5.20.2010

UPDATE: This post has been restored to its prior length.  Thanks.

Tuesday night, the Lions’ annual charity basketball squad swung through Lansing Eastern High School's fieldhouse, for a night of “Harlem Globetrotter-style” hoops, as well as autographs, activities, fundraising, and laughs. Despite this being the 8th annual occurrence of said game, I’d never made it out before—but an invitation from a friend sounded too good to turn down. It was.
When I came in, former Lions Luther Elliss and Cory Schlesinger were “warming up” with a variety of horribly missed trick shots.

Shortly thereafter, Louis Delmas, Cliff Avril, Drew Stanton, and—I’m sorry to whoever this dude is—an older Lion who I’ve never heard of, and whose name I didn’t hear correctly, came out and joined the shootaround.

The first introduction was Delmas, and he exploded out of a throng of teenaged autograph seekers to slide around, showboat, and call for applause . . . the announcer said “Yes, folks, he will do that all night. He can’t play basketball, but he will do that all night.” The announcer had some fun with Elliss as well, announcing his weight as 340 pounds—and Elliss first sucked in and shook his head, then glumly nodded and extended his belly. Luther's size, though gave him a decided advantage on the tipoff:

By the way: yes, Cory Schlesinger is as wide as he is tall.  At first, it looked like the game was going to be a half-serious attempt to play basketball; shortly after it started, the announcer said, "Was that a 2-3 zone? Did you guys actually practice this year?" Thinking it would be "half-serious" was a thought too serious by half.  The Lions quickly put in their small lineup:
The game immediately regressed—or possibly, progressed—into an all-out laughfest, with trick shots, poorly-advised threes, kids subbing in and out, and low field goal percentage. I kept my kids informed on who the players were, what position they played, etc.  My eldest immediately fell for Louis Delmas, whose locks were up in a ponytail. Whenever he jacked up a terrible three-ball, she was transfixed, ready to cheer.
After the first "half," it was time for autographs and pictures. Each Lion had his own line, though Cliff Avril was initially distracted by the chiropractic display's massage chairs. My two elder kids (the little one had swimming lessons) agreed that Drew Stanton's autograph should be the first we get.
My mother, during Drew's MSU days, taught my daughter to say, "Drew Stanton, what a babe!" whenever he appeared onscreen. This time, though, she held her tongue . . . possibly because of the close proximity of Louis Delmas:

Sorry about the blurry pic, his tatted arms presented too much awesome for one lens to focus on. Next up, Cliff Avril . . . insert similar comment about how I didn’t know I was buying tickets to the gun show, etc.:

After Cliff, the siren song of the other activities was just too much for the kids to keep standing in line. The kids ran off to the basketball court, where the firefighters helped my son slam it home for the first time ever:

My daughter, meanwhile, transformed into a one-woman dance team:

She was then joined by a second girl, and after some adorable jaunts up and down the court, they went over to one of the firefighters-as it turns out, he was the other little girl’s dad. They kindly shared their chips.

Eventually, the horn sounded, and some more “basketball” was played. Louis Delmas, so businesslike up until this point, literally let his hair down: All pretenses of competition were dropped in the second half, and having fun became the sole name of the game. Away from the play, a game of Duck, Duck, Goose broke out, and it was such a draw that Cliff Avril took time-out from his second-half-long massage to participate! I tell you this for your own sake: do not challenge Drew Stanton to a game of Duck, Duck, Goose; he will destroy you.

At the end, the Lions assembled all the kids at the halfcourt line, with the firefighters on one side and the Lions on the other. They set up a football play, with Stanton taking a shotgun snap, and Avril going deep. With a borrowed miniball, the Lions faced off against the defense (I see great potential in their 62-2-3 defensive alignment), Stanton took the snap, hit Cliff Avril deep, who then, uh, drove the lane for a touchdunk?

I have to say, this was an amazing time. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but total freeform goofiness was much better than anything I’d imagined. My kids had a blast , as they repeatedly told me, and they were thrilled to meet some real Lions. As a charity fundraiser for a great cause, it was an awesome idea. As a meet-the-Lions photo op, it was far more satisfying than any I’d ever been to.

What blew me away was how awesome all the guys were; they had nothing but big grins and great attitudes all night long. They were incredible with the kids, and had a ball with the firefighters. I thanked Drew Stanton for coming up, and giving my kids an opportunity to see and meet with them, and he replied, “Hey, that’s what it’s all about.”

Even cooler to think about: after the game ended, the Lions drove the hour-plus back home, and were up in time for OTAs the next morning. As awesome as it is that former Lions are staying involved in the Detroit community-Schlesinger is a teacher in Allen Park!-it’s really amazing to me that current pros are taking time out of their “voluntary” workouts, driving all over the state, and helping other communities stay vibrant too. A big tip of the hat to everyone in the organization; stuff like this makes me proud to be a fan, regardless of what happens on the field.

Technorati Tags: nfl,detroit lions,basketball,charity,louis delmas,drew stanton,cliff avril,luther elliss,cory schlesinger


Karie,  May 20, 2010 at 8:54 AM  

that's awesome ty. I'm a little disappointed I didn't find out about this till now. Would have loved to take my kids. Glad you and the pink lions had a good time

SportsGuy,  May 20, 2010 at 8:57 AM  

This is the best blog post I've read anywhere in some time. I'm gonna have to get my 7-year old to one of these things.

Ty,  May 20, 2010 at 9:26 AM  


Thanks! These things aren't particularly well-promoted; you really have to keep your eyes peeled. I couldn't even find it on any local schedule of events. I found out through a friend involved with Lansing Eastern, and even then only on the day of. If I get wind of it ahead of time next year, I'll let everyone know.


Ty,  May 20, 2010 at 9:36 AM  


Wow. Thank you.

Your seven-year-old would have an awesome time, I'm sure of it. My oldest two are five-and-a-half and four; they were just barely old enough to get the full experience. The six-, seven-, and eight-year-old types were playing some intense hoops at halftime . . .


Weston Corbitt,  May 20, 2010 at 11:23 AM  

I used to go to these when they came to my hometown of Coloma. It was a lot of fun to get autographs and meet players I saw on Sunday. Raiola was an a-hole to a 12 year old version of me, but that is him on his behavior.

Anonymous,  May 20, 2010 at 1:05 PM  

The Lions came up North (Elk Rapids) in the '60's when Charlie Sanders (my favorite player) was playing, I was able to get his autograph on one of those cereal box posters of him. (Lost it some where over the years)

Had a great time. I’m glad to see the Lions still doing it.


Anonymous,  May 20, 2010 at 10:15 PM  

The Lions will be playing at Ionia High School against Saints Peter & Paul on Saturday May 22nd at 7PM. Tix at the door only $7 for adults $5 for kids 5 - 12, under 5 free.

Anonymous,  May 21, 2010 at 8:06 AM  

The "Old Guy" was mast likely Rob Rubik he is the ring leadrer of the basketball "tour". They play in Oscoda every year angainst the firefighters. Sorry to hear Stanton was there he is a grade A "DB". He walked out of the school looked back at a pregnant lady carrying a child and let the door slam back in her face, I told her not to worry he was a Spartan and thats how they act, he wouldn't even turn around and appologize.

Ty,  May 21, 2010 at 8:42 AM  

Weston, Anon 1--

Cool! I heard about these for the first time last year, so this is all new to me. I think it's a really cool event; a great way to connect with the community.


Ty,  May 21, 2010 at 12:47 PM  

Anon 2--

Wow, thanks for the info! Take note, Ionia-area folks.


Ty,  May 21, 2010 at 12:58 PM  

Anon 3--

Yeah, that's the mystery Lion; thanks for piecing it together. As for Stanton, he's got a long track record of being a class act in public and in private. He's always gone the extra mile in terms of charity work and giving back to the community; see above.

I'm sure every person walking the Earth has a "lowlight reel" of regrettable, jerky things they may not even realize they've done. Being famous means that every time you cut someone off on the freeway, burp at a restaurant, or use a cuss word when you stub your toe in public, there's a small army of witnesses who post it on the internet (ahem) anonymously as proof they're a terrible person.

Also: I am a third-generation Spartan. "That" is not
"how I act".


Anonymous,  May 21, 2010 at 3:03 PM  

That was a Sparty comment just to get his attention not a slam on all Spartans as I have many friends who are alumni as well. He just happened to be a real prick that day I made sure I said it loud enough for him to hear thinking he may say he was sorry but he wouldn't even turn around and acknowledge what he did, just left me feelin a little sour toward him.

Anonymous,  May 21, 2010 at 3:54 PM  

Schlesinger looks like a wrestler. He also looks like he could walk into OTAs and be the starting fullback. Can't believe he's a teacher.

Matt,  May 21, 2010 at 9:54 PM  

I missed this for a "compliance gaining" class? I need to get my priorities straight.

Great pics!

Matt,  May 21, 2010 at 10:02 PM  

I believe Schlesinger WAS a wrestler back-in-the-day. I also believe he could start at FB for about 30 out of 32 NFL teams in 2010.

Anonymous,  November 8, 2011 at 8:15 PM  

Schlesinger has been teaching for 4 years in michigan. I also heard he is the schools strength coach. I would love to work out with him.

richard nelson,  March 29, 2014 at 11:07 AM  

thats Cory Schlesinger he played in the early 2000's great blocking running back

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