Each summer Georgetown University's McDonough Arena hosts the Kenner League. Named after one of the founders and first director of the Metropolitan Police Boys' and Girls' Club of Washington DC, the Kenner league is the only NCAA sanctioned summer league in Washington DC . For nearly 20 years the Kenner league has attracted high school, college and professional players from throughout the area to come together in the off season and play in a team oriented atmosphere that is both competitive and safe. It has also provided fans, friends and family the chance to see great hoops action in air conditioned comfort.
With students, faculty, staff, alumni and sports enthusiasts in attendance basketball luminaries such as Washington Wizards' NBA All-Star Gilbert Arenas, Brendan Haywood and Steve Francis of the Houston Rockets played in the league last season. The list of former Kenner leaguers includes Allen Iverson, Jerome Williams, Mike Sweetney, Othella Harrington, Alonzo Mourning, and Dikembe Mutombo to name but a few. Its great competition and exciting for the fans, but why is it called the Kenner league?
For some fifty years, James" Jabbo" Kenner, whose powerful punches as a professional prize fighter earned him the name "JABBO", fought to help the young and disadvantaged in the ashington Metropolitan area. He began as an amateur boxer at age fifteen and for three years was the D.C. Amateur Athletic Champion. In 1937 he helped found and was the first to direct the Metropolitan Boys' Club of Washington, DC.
People who have known and felt the care and concern of this distinguished man include such international celebrities as Congressman Walter Fauntroy, boxing champ Sugar Ray Leonard, former Senator Edward Brooke, and former late great TV personality Peter Greene. He also had a strong influence on two former Georgetown student athletes: John "Bay Bay" Duran and Craig "Big Sky" Shelton, and on Hall of Fame basketball coach John Thompson, Jr.
Mr. Kenner helped old and young alike. In the course of his life he had taken into his home twelve foster children and four senior citizens.
Many of the persons whom he helped were so moved by his example that they decided to dedicate their own lives to the aid of people in places such as Haiti, Scotland, Holland, Israel and Africa.
James Kenner received an Honorary Doctorate from Georgetown University in 1981. His death in 1983 ended a lifetime dedicated to helping people in the Washington Metropolitan area.