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Dot the Don: Swagger of P. Diddy, lyrical skill of Jay-Z

NAYABA ARINDE Amsterdam News Editor | 6/22/2011, 5:16 p.m.

"Music is powerful," Dot the Don told the Amsterdam News. "It can make you feel like I've known you forever and I've never even met you. I want to make that kind of music so people say, 'Wow, I've been there.' Music is about life experiences. There's more to music than cars and liquor. I'm trying to become an entrepreneur, hopefully with the business mind of Sean Combs and the lyrical skill of Shawn Carter."

Grandma Dorothy Dozier calls her grandson Terrence; swaths of Flatbush and others know him as Don the Dot.

The Don, aka Terrence Washington, takes the Dot of his stage name from his grandma Dorothy Dozier, "the motivation for everything I do."

What he does includes making music, handling a day job and teaching dozens of city children the art and ability of basketball at free after-school sessions in Brooklyn.

Born and raised in Brooklyn, mostly Flatbush, Washington, 27, has four sisters, Takira, Lisa, Nicki and Essence. The aspiring entrepreneur and youth advocate went to James Madison High in Bensonhurst. From there he went to Touro College, where he majored in business management.

"I coach basketball for young people from all over the city. My partner Pam has a company called Next Level, and we not only coach the youth, but we also provide a safe environment for them after school," said Washington, who currently works in a Manhattan retail store.

Washington explains that the main reason he got into coaching basketball was because he lost his cousin Christopher Sandy just a few years ago. "He played ball in Finland, and he was killed by a drunk driver. I stopped balling because it wasn't fun anymore.

"One of my nephews Raquan Taylor started playing ball and I watched him develop his game. Christopher played for the Harlem Globetrotters and wanted to watch Raquan grow into a pure point guard. He went to Fresno State in California, where he played point guard under legendary coach Jerry Tarkanian.

"Chris died at age 28 on Thanksgiving Day in 2007. Raquan is 13 years old now. We will hold the fourth Christopher Sandy Memorial on August 29 at Broadway Junction and Kelly Park.

"I decided to build a basketball team to keep the dream going. I met my coaching partner, Pam Holley. She already had Team Next Level, and I basically latched on.

"I deal with about 30 kids on a normal Tuesday or Thursday practice. My kids work really hard, but the most important thing is their school work. They are scholars and must keep up great grades. I teach them to be young role models. They range from 7 to 16 years old."

Washington added that they are from all over Brooklyn: "Any kid from all around the city can come; we can work with them. We just want to show them what hard work can do and what you can get if you really try.

"I don't really pick them. If you want to play, you can come. A lot of kids come because they have nowhere else to go. I keep a real respectful line with my children. It's not always about basketball. They learn the value of hard work and discipline. Sometimes practice isn't even about basketball; it'll be about the value of life and what you can learn from it."