November 30, 2004 by

Tulley Brown


Categories: Education

Tulley Brown, the founder of an influential after-school program for at-risk youths, died on Nov. 13 of heart failure. He was 72.
The Los Angeles native earned a political science degree from Occidental College in California, served in the Army for two years, then did missionary work in Hong Kong. He returned to Los Angeles in the 1960s and landed a job as a sales executive. In his spare time, Brown built a library for a halfway house that helped troubled teens.
When a thief stole his car in 1967, and he learned that the criminal was both an orphan and a high school dropout, Brown decided to develop a program that would keep disadvantaged children off the streets. A year later, he founded Direction Sports, an after-school program for children age 7 to 19.
Using college students as tutors and coaches, Direction Sports drew hundreds of participants from all over Los Angeles. The children studied before basketball practice and competed academically during weekend games. A typical activity involved answering spelling or math questions while shooting hoops. Correct answers were required for each basket to count.
“There are lots of programs out there to teach or give youth quality time, but not many know how to empower. Giving them a sense of their own worth develops the reservoir from which every other good endeavor flows,” Brown said in a 1992 interview with The Christian Science Monitor.
Within 10 years, Direction Sports became one of the most successful urban programs in America. A UCLA study showed that students who went through the program had better test scores than students who didn’t receive the specialized tutoring. In 1974, the program began working with juvenile offenders. Two years later, the Los Angeles Probation Department reported that delinquent graduates of the Direction Sports programs in Watts and Compton had a recidivism rate of 2 percent; the national average at that time was 50 percent.
Direction Sports expanded to nine other cities, but was scaled back in the 1980s after many of its government grants were cut during the Reagan administration. The program was shut down entirely in the mid-1990s when private funding dried up and Brown took time off to care for his wife, Jackie. She died of cancer in 1997.

6 Responses to Tulley Brown

  1. Richard D. Yarbough

    Having just learned of Mr. Brown’s death, I am saddened by his lost. I wish to express my condolences to his children, whom I had the pleasure of meeting when I worked with Mr. Brown during the early 80’s. Mr. Brown was a tremendous human being, who blessed my life more than most will ever know.

  2. Arthur Vllalovos

    I sadden to here of Tulley’s passing. He was a mentor to me and a man with a good heart. I’ll always remember him as a charismatic leader and entrepreneur.
    I worked for Tulley as a coach and regional director while going to school at ELAC.

  3. Ralph Morales

    Mr. Brown you empowered me. You taught me that my opportunities in life were endless. I am, I believe in the first class that graduates from Direction Sports. I called you in the early 1990,s and thanked you, but my words seemed empty compared to what you had done for me.
    THANK YOU….YOU ARE STILL WALKING BESIDE ME..I learned only this past weekend of Mr. Brown’s passing, my condolences to his family, he was a wonderful caring man.
    Ralph Morales

  4. Kim Gyger/Brown

    I never met the man that supposedly was my father . My name is Kim and I was born in May of 1965 . My mothers name is Marilyn Gyger , she was 19 when I was born and ” TULLEY NOLAN BROWN , my father was 33 . All this is on my birth certificate , where I was born @ Queen Of The Valley Hospital in S.California . I have actually talked to Tulley on the phone , I think it was around 2002 . I found a # online years ago but was to afraid to call . But I finally did and we had talked for over an hour at least . He never really acknowledged or admitted that he was my father . I think that he thought I was after his money . I just wanted the one piece of my puzzle that was missing . I have a wonderful dad that raised me and I wouldn’t change that for the world . I was born with blonde hair and blue eyes . My mother has black hair and brown eyes, so I have often wondered what Tulley looks like . If someone has a pic of Tulley and could email it to me , that would be GREAT ! Well , I’m done for now . I really wished that I could have met him . . . He sounds like a wonderful person . Kim

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