"There are organizations for basketball development that can be really expensive for families to have their kids join, and they're almost selling the pipe dream," McCrary tells PEOPLE
Orlando Magic point guard Cole Anthony is proud to partner with his mother, writer and documentarian Crystal McCrary, to make navigating youth basketball development easier for aspiring athletes and their families.
Anthony, 23, and McCrary, 53, know the unique challenges of navigating the road to professional sports through various programs, trainers and coaches.
Now, the mother and son duo have teamed up to launch GameUp, a parent resource app designed to transform youth basketball by helping protect parents from "unreliable organizations" who take advantage of aspiring young athletes.
"There are organizations for basketball development that can be really expensive for families to have their kids join, and they're almost selling the pipe dream. 'Join this organization,' and then the kid never gets any playing time," McCrary, who directed the 2013 documentary Little Ballers, warns.
The mother of three athletes tells PEOPLE, "I've just been deeply immersed in this world for a decade plus at this point, and so I became that parent that other parents would constantly come to ask, 'Can you make a recommendation for a basketball program? Can you make a recommendation for a team, a trainer, et cetera?' Just recommendations for many aspects of the youth basketball world."
The New York Times best-selling author (who co-wrote a steamy romance novel with Patrick Ewing's ex-wife Rita in 1998), shares Cole and a 20-year-old daughter, Ella, with her ex-husband and former NBA star, Greg Anthony.
McCrary and her current husband, Ray McGuire, welcomed a son, Leo, in 2012. Their accolades boast an impressive resume for the family with Cole ready to begin another season in the NBA, Ella with a New York State Championship victory, and Leo already playing AAU basketball competitively for New York's Riverside Hawks.
With the landscape of sports constantly changing, McCrary says she's noticed "the whole youth basketball ecosystem getting younger and younger," while "the business grows more and more."
She explains, "From more AAU teams increasing," the average age of competitive play is dropping.
"Kids like Cole didn't get to go to nationals until he was in fourth grade. His little brother went right after kindergarten, so it's gotten younger and younger and more, I think, convoluted for families to navigate," says McCrary.
GameUp will help provide families with reliable trainers, coaches, development programs and additional resources to help them excel in their sport.
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"For me, it's been dope to watch her from behind the scenes to now shifting to a position where we're working together," says Anthony.
He adds: "I have not taken this for granted at all, and I've just appreciated the level of expertise she has in the business field, especially when she came to me with her ideas. She's just a superwoman."
On Sept. 10, the pair will officially launch the app at the inaugural City Assist event in New York City. "It's going to be a fun-filled community day dedicated to introducing families in the tri-state area to basketball programs and teams," McCrary says.
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