Queensbridge is located in the Long Island City area in the borough of Queens. Going back to the 60’s through the 2000’s residents in the Queensbridge, Ravenswood, and Astoria projects in which you survive through drugs and violence. Queensbridge projects is a place where the Old School Rappers come out and find success such as Mobb Deep, Nas, MC Shan, Marley Marl, Havoc, Roxanne Shante, and a few others.
Beside the Rap game you have good basketball talent to come from the Queensbridge area. Many of them had a successful journey and made a mark on the collegiate level and a few have made it to the NBA. A majority played HS ball at Mater Christi (now St. John’s Prep), Long Island City, and a few branch to different areas.
They started playing the game mainly at the Jacob Riis Recreation Center and St. Rita’s CYO program. This is where they develop their basketball skills that was guided by Lou Garnes and Hank Carter. The St Rita’s team coach by Garnes was the best in the city and they dominated every summer league they participated.
Here is the list of players who became the best:
Ron Artest/Metta World Peace – Ron Artest from Queensbridge projects played at LaSalle HS and led them to the 1997 CHSAA City Championship. Played at St. John’s two seasons and had an outstanding career in the NBA in which he was a NBA Champion, All Star, and Defensive player of the year.
Ronnie Williams – Ronnie Williams played his high school ball at a Military school in Wisconsin. Then played at the University of Florida and was all SEC all four season. He led the Gators in scoring each season he played. Williams holds the Gators’ records in points, field goals made, free throws made and free throws attempted. After his tenure at Florida he was drafted by the Boston Celtics in 1984. Played several seasons in the CBA and two seasons in the USBL. Ronnie will always be a legend in the Queensbridge area. After his basketball career he worked in a juvenile detention center in Brooklyn. On November 7, 2021 Ronnie died due to brain cancer. RIP Ronnie!
Tony “Red” Bruin – Bruin was an All City and All American at Mater Christi High. He led his team to back to back City titles in 1978 and 1979. Bruin played at Syracuse under the legendary Jim Boehiem for four seasons. He was one of the tri-captains in his junior and senior seasons. He was an outstanding player who was above the rim with several highlight slam dunks. Also was a decent shooter and a guy who can finish in clutch situations. We salute “Red” for his great memories at Mater Christ and Syracuse.
Roy Beekman – Known as “Ice”, Roy Beekman was Mater Christi first All-American player. He was a prolific scorer and had a great jump shot. Beekman took his talents to Niagara University and played four seasons. After his playing tenure he work with the Board of Education. In addition, he devoted his time to give back to the game. He coached the Aim High program, got in the college coaching ranks as an Assistant Coach for LIU under his best friend and former teammate Ray Martin who was the Head Coach. Beekman was an assistant and Head Coach at Hostos Community College. He served as an Assistant at Westbury and Nassau Community College. On May 3, 2023 Roy Beekman passed away and will always remember for his dedication to the youth.
Ray Martin – A Martin started his basketball journey in the Catholic Youth Organization at St. Rita’s. From there, he was a standout at Mater Christi H.S., Astoria, where he was an All-American and one of the best high school hoops player in the city as a senior. Then he went on to play for Digger Phelps at Notre Dame. He was a member of the team that stopped UCLA’s historic 88-game winning streak. He got into coaching college basketball, including an eight-year run as an assistant to Jim Valvano at NC State and was part of the 1983 NCAA national championship team. He was a head coach at LIU for a brief stint. He is now currently an assistant coach at St. Augustine University in North Carolina.
Vern Fleming – Vern who grew up in the Queensbridge projects. An All-City standout at Mater Christi high in which he help the school won back to back CHSAA titles in 1978 and 1979. Then he went onto play at the University of Georgia and lead the Bulldogs to the 1983 Final Four. A member of the 1984 USA Olympic basketball team who won the Gold Medal. Then played 11 years with the Indiana Pacers and New Jersey Nets.
Victor Fleming – The younger brother of Vern Fleming who played at Long Island City HS. Played four seasons at Xavier and in his senior campaign he led the Musketeers to a 22–11 record. Fleming averaged 14.6 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.7 assists in which he started all 33 games. In 1984, the Portland Trailblazers drafted Fleming in the second round as the number 26th overall pick. That was the same year his brother Vern got drafted. Later that Summer of 1984 Victor was cut by the Trailblazers. Also he signed with San Antonio and Phoenix he never got to play in an NBA game. However he played for the Cincinnati team in the CBA for three years. He has was selected to the 1986 CBA All-Star team, as he averaged 15.1 points and 3.7 rebounds per game.
Sean Green – Sean Green grew up in the Queensbridge projects. Green was an All City player at August Martin in Jamacia for three seasons. Then he transfer to Oak Hill Academy for his senior campaign. Green committed to NC State played a few games and transfer to Iona were averaged 23.2 points per game in his three years. An unanimous First- team All MAAC selection. Green was drafted in the 1991 NBA Draft in the 2nd round by the Indiana Pacers. Green spend two seasons with the Pacers and had stints with the Philadelphia 76ers, and Utah Jazz. Then he played eight years overseas.
Eugene Waldron – The 6-foot-3 guard grew up in the Queensbridge projects. He was an All City product and lead Long Island City HS to the PSAL Championship game in 1980. He played at Syracuse and he is second in all time assists leaders. He had a great handle in his game and was a role player. He help lead Syracuse to the 1981 Big East tournament championship.
Dewayne Johnson – Known as “DJ” Dewayne Johnson was an All-City player at Mater Christi. Scored 1,095 points, including 607 as a junior. He transferred to Oak Hill Academy in his senior season. He played collegiately at Marquette and averaged 8.3 points per game as a freshman. Then in his sophomore year he average 12.3 points per game. As a junior he scored in double-figures 20 times by averaging 14.3 points per game. He will always be a legend from Queensbridge.
Phil Smith – Phil Smith became a role player in the Mater Christi 1978 and 1979 CHSAA City Champions team. A All-City selection who took his talents to New Mexico. The 5-10 Point Guard was All WAC and averaged 14.1 points per game and 6.0 assists per game. He had 1477 career points and 630 career assists. He went on and play professionally in Europe for several years. After his playing tenure he was an Assistant coach at Northern New Mexico College and coach for New Mexico AAU basketball program.
Mel Kennedy – Kennedy grew up in the Queensbridge projects and was a part of the St Rita CYO basketball program. Kennedy played at Power Memorial High School. He was a member of the last assembled basketball team in 1984 as well as the last graduating class. Power closed down in the Summer of 1984. He was first team All-City and lead Power to the Archdiocese Division one championship in 1984. He played at the University of Virginia for four seasons in which he was a contributor to the program.
We salute to the other players and athletes from “The Bridge”. A documentary basketball film is coming out soon about the history of Queensbridge and the brotherhood of basketball.
I will love to honor coaches Floyd Bank who coach at Long Island City HS. Also, Jim Gatto who coach at Mater Christi/St. John’s Prep who were outstanding coaches and connected with the players. Queensbridge became a golden era in the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, and 2000’s. We live the legacy from the Long Island City area. If we miss someone share them in the comments we like to salute them too.