By Princess Safiya Byers Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service Published Apr 29, 2024 at 5:01 PM

Khalif El-Amin is on a mission to empower young people in Milwaukee to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams. 

To carry this out, El-Amin, cofounder of the Young Enterprising Society, or YES, has launched a new podcast, “Leef with the Legends,” featuring interviews with local and national legends from the worlds of sports, entertainment and business.

YES is a group that helps young entrepreneurs launch and grow businesses. It also runs a program for high school students that centers on science, technology, engineering, art and math.

El-Amin said the goal was for his live podcast to be more than just an event.

“It’s a mission to motivate, inspire and mentor,” he said. “We want to bridge the gap between pro basketball players and people who are still on the journey.”

"I’ve failed a ton of times"

For a special episode, El-Amin hosted a live podcast with former Harlem Globetrotter Charles “Choo” Smith at Radio Milwaukee.

He invited some of Milwaukee’s top high school basketball teams, including Nicolet High School’s boys and girls basketball teams and Milwaukee Academy of Science’s girls basketball team, to participate in the discussion. 

During the interview, Smith shared personal struggles and triumphs with the students.

He told students, “I’ve failed a ton of times and I’ve made a lot of mistakes but I kept going. And I surrounded myself with the right people that gave me the information I needed, not that I wanted.”

He talked to them about the realities of wanting to be a pro ballplayer.

“There have only ever been 5,000 NBA players in the league’s 77-year history,” Smith said. “Those statistics mean that none of you may make it."

Shared passion for mentoring youths

When Que El-Amin, Khalif El-Amin’s brother and co-founder of the Young Enterprising Society, found out Smith would be in town to receive an award, he saw it as a perfect opportunity to have Smith as a guest on the podcast.

Smith, like Que El-Amin, works in real estate and shares the same passion about sports as Khalif El-Amin. All three are also passionate about youth and mentorship, so they leveraged this opportunity to collaborate on a live podcast

“We wanted to present other ways to be successful (outside of basketball),” Que El-Amin said. “And we are always looking for the opportunity to change the perception of places, like Milwaukee, that are deemed bad.”

Students and their coaches were able to ask questions during the podcast. Throughout the conversation, Smith discussed perseverance, mental health issues and what it looks like to consider career opportunities outside of basketball.

Listen to the full episode here.