Metta World Peace's XvsX Sports builds basketball community in Los Angeles and nationwide

Janessa Robinson

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Marissa Madeldove (center left) plays in an XvsX Sports women's basketball run in Los AngelesJanessa Robinson/Artistry Land

On Thursday August 12, 2021 in Sherman Oaks XvsX Sports players enter a gym with masks on and basketballs in hand as they take to the court for a night of competitive games.

XvsX Sports was founded by Metta World Peace and seasoned tech entrepreneurs to provide opportunities for players to monetize their skillset, gain exposure, and increase their connections within the basketball community.

“It was my first time at an XvsX Sports women’s run and I’m so glad I could make it,” says Marissa Mandeldove. “I worked on and did moves I’ve never done against competition but have been working on for a while so to actually have successfully executed them was a proud moment for me.”

Mandeldove moved to Los Angeles from Atlanta back in the May-June timeframe. She visited Los Angeles to compete in a basketball tournament and decided to stay, now this is her home. “I currently have an athletic apparel business in development and I work at Amazon overnight. I do DoorDash and I’m also a braid hair stylist. I’ve been playing basketball since I was eight years old. I attended the Clark Atlanta University as a student athlete where I left my championship legacy.” She received the 2018 SAIC basketball tournament’s Most Valuable Player award.

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Dr. Cherene Toscano (center) plays in an XvsX Sports women's basketball run in Los Angeles.Janessa Robinson/Artistry Land

Another player in the basketball runs by an XvsX Sports game host named. Dr. Cherene Toscano who comes from a tight-knit Ecuadorian family. “I am a chiropractor who treats mostly professional athletes or entertainers. My office is in Encino, but I travel too,” she says as she speaks to me from from Las Vegas where she works with players from the Big3.

While practicing medicine Toscano connected with XvsX Sports Founder Metta World Peace, an NBA Champion and NBA All-Star. “During a treatment session, Metta told me about his goals for a new app and league called XvsX. It was just what was needed during dark times when good runs were so hard to come by.”

She downloaded the app and joined some of the first games in Los Angeles then began using the app to host her own games at a park. “Soon I was hosting the hottest women’s and co-ed runs on the app then became the female hooper with the most games played and one of the top hosts," she says as she speaks to me from from Las Vegas where she works with players from the Big3.

When asked what inspired him to launch XvsX Sports, Metta World Peace says, “Basketball is a sport where the most passionate can often get overlooked due to life’s circumstances. XvsX Sports was created to truly empower talent. It’s not so much about growing the business as much as it’s about empowering people. Our focus is bringing out the beauty in basketball.”

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Bradley Ezewiro (red shirt) participates running screens in XvsX Sports men's basketball run in Los Angeles.Janessa Robinson/Artistry Land

Another XvsX Sports basketball player is Bradley Ezewiro, an incoming freshman at Louisiana State University (LSU). Ezewiro is originally from Carson, California where he began playing basketball at the age of four years old—that’s when he fell in love with the game. His position is Power Forward/Center (PF/C) as he enters LSU with a major in accounting and finance.

When asked about how XvsX Sports has impacted him so far, Ezewiro says, “It has helped my game a lot it and given me a chance to evaluate my game against pros and guys who have played longer than me." He goes on to say, "I try to come at least once a week when I am in town and just to win every game I play and to help my team win.”

On the court Mandeldove, Toscano, and Ezewiro go toe-to-toe against tough competition. Back at the basketball run in Sherman Oaks on August 12, 2021, the ladies play in mixed-gender and women’s runs before Ezewiro arrives at the gym for the men’s run of the night.

Mandeldove and Toscano play on the same team, sporting white XvsX Sports jerseys and each of them catch on fire with jump shots at various points throughout the run. Madeldove’s playing style takes her into the paint, penetrates defense with crossovers and layups while Toscano often slips by defenders with quick feet to sink her shots smoothly.

When Ezewiro arrives at the gym, the men take half of the court to get some coaching in while running screens in practice before beginning to scrimmage. During games Ezewiro is often found dunking on opponents with ease and keeping a cool head among some tough moments as competition grows more fierce into the night.

When players are off the court, many of them are seen socializing about more leagues they play in, such as one in Venice Beach, or connecting with each other on social media. By the end of the night, new players make new friends and set future games to keep developing their skills while growing the XvsX Sports community.

While XvsX Sports hosts many games in the Los Angeles area, the community is nationwide. On August 15, 2021 Metta World Peace’s XvsX Sports teamed up with NBA All-Star Baron Davis’s Slic Sports and Boost Mobile to host an Influencer Tour in Las Vegas. The event featured a meet and greet with Peace and Davis, plus an influencer and men’s basketball game where XvsX Sports players went head to head against each other.

XvsX Sports events can be found on the application or on Twitter. The XvsX Sports app can be downloaded in the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store.

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Janessa writes news stories on local businesses, entertainment, events, politics, arts, and culture in Los Angeles.

Los Angeles County, CA
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