June 28, 2020

Hitmaker Humanitarian Hopes to Transform Basketball Court into Sustainable Technicolor Oasis

AKRON, Ohio​—​ As a teen, Filip Filipi used a burgeoning music career to jumpstart philanthropic projects that would lead him all the way to United Nations summits where he would repeatedly speak on behalf of vulnerable populations. Today, he returns to music, bonding beats with goodwill to transform a suburban basketball court into a technicolor oasis of sustainability that promotes sport and health for local youth.

The project was born out of a wish to memorialize the influence of friend and former manager, Zoran Djakovic, who had a profound impact on Filipi and many of his early philanthropic endeavors. Djakovic, an ardent lover of basketball, grew up in nearby Parma, and cared deeply about the wellbeing of his community, especially the youth. He believed that sport could promote kindness toward others, as well as toward our natural world. The court was designed to keep this legacy alive.

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If we build it, the youth will come.

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Situated in suburban Akron, the court is designed to utilize sustainable materials that bring forth vibrant and symbolic imagery tying sport and art. The construction utilizes Nike Grind Premier Surface Court materials, which aim to maximize performance while reducing negative environmental impact. Surrounding the court are Strawberry Energy Smart Solar Benches, and all of the vibrant artwork on the court is created with eco-friendly paint.

The artwork symbolizes Filipi and Djakovic’s shared heritage, with a nod to both Orthodox Christian motifs, as well as elements epitomizing the Balkan post-war era in a media frame, to whose manipulation people, especially young people, are often subject. Basketball embodied the idea of hope for Balkan youth in a time of social upheaval, similar to what many are experiencing in North America today.

The design also alludes to Filipi’s passion for music and the direction and connections it afforded him. To bring the court project to fruition, Filipi returned to his musical roots, releasing a CD entitled ​Nine Roses,​ produced by Canadian artist YEAROFTHELEE. The CD, which is out now on all digital platforms, consists of 10 songs, including Kosovka, which features Gucci Mane on its intro. A video for the song, featuring Sports Illustrated model Bo Krsmanovic, was conceptualized with ethnic symbolism that played a role in Filipi’s own upbringing as a young immigrant seeking direction in a newfound home by dabbling in art and sport.

To accompany the album, Filipi is releasing a limited edition of branded merchandise through his new socially-conscious enterprise Maison Filipi. All proceeds from streaming and sale of physical copies of the CD and merchandise will go toward covering construction costs of the basketball court.

For years, the connection between music and sport provided a young Filipi with an outlet through which he could effectively process enormous social changes occurring around him. His friendship with Djakovic helped him channel that passion into kindness for others, out of which Filipi’s decade-long career in philanthropy emerged. Most recently, it was marked by a large drive that resulted in the donation of $1 million of medical aid and PPE to Serbia during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Today, as an adult experienced in collaborating with some of the leading musicians and statesmen in the world, he hopes to be able to give back in a meaningful way.

Once constructed, the basketball court will be open to all youth in the Akron region, regardless of background, race or struggle, hopefully serving as a source of connection, and inspiration.

Help Us Make It a Reality

If we build it, the youth will come.

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Donation Total: $40