Bubba Almony got his start in the security field as a teenager in Ocean City.
The Worcester County native worked events like the Dew Tour and other high-profile outings as he climbed his way to becoming a celebrity bodyguard. In his career, Almony has protected notable names like Vinny Guadagnino from “Jersey Shore,” boxer Floyd Mayweather and eyewear designer Corey Woods.
His security gigs took him far from the Eastern Shore, but he always remained committed to his hometown. When certain events started to leave the area, Almony wanted to create something that would put the Lower Shore back on the map.
In August, he plans to do just that.
Bubba’s Celebrity Basketball Game will be held Saturday, Aug. 28 at the Worcester County Recreation Center in Snow Hill, Md. Tipoff is slated for 5 p.m., and all proceeds will go toward awareness for cancer and bullying.
“During COVID, I noticed that there’s got to be something on the Shore,” Almony said. “Something we hope motivates the youth and provides an economic impact. What better place than Snow Hill where you can have that face-to-face encounter.”
The event will feature several celebrities, including former Baltimore Ravens’ wide receiver Jacoby Jones; Chef Andre Rush, who worked in the White House for four administration;, award-winning actress Kendra Lust and Dr. Khalilah Camacho Ali, the widow of legendary world champion boxer Muhammad Ali.
Almony said other guests will be announced in the near future, and local and state elected officials – such as sheriffs Mike Lewis and Matt Crisafulli and Gov. Larry Hogan – have been invited and/or plan to attend.
“I chose the lineup based off diversity,” Almony said. “I wanted a successful crowd, and not only are they successful, but that have all given back. We want these people to show the youth you can be anything you want in life.”
Some people, like officer Tommy Norman, are voices Almony hopes can speak to local youth about the importance of character and creating relationships with all members of the community.
Norman is a nationally recognized police officer from North Little Rock, Arkansas who is best known for his devotion to community policing. He’s purchased backpacks, school supplies and other items for students, and currently has over 1 million followers on Instagram.
Almony said Norman is not only an ideal celebrity to feature at the event because of his work with the youth, but to also help mend the divide among police and African-Americans.
Nearly half of Black people in the United States have little or no confidence in the police, according to a PBS NewsHour-NPR-Marist poll in June 2020. On Tuesday, Minnesota officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty on three counts for his role in the death of George Floyd, a Black man.
With Norman and other local law enforcement in attendance, Almony hopes progress can continue to be made in bridging the gap between police and the community.
“It’s all about trust and loyalty,” Almony said. “Officer Norman is the face of community policing around the nation. Anyone can be nice one day, but to do it every day, you see people become family. We want to spread the virus of positivity.”
Others, like Ali, worked directly with Almony as he provided security services.
Many may see her last name and think of the man some consider to be the greatest athlete of all time, but Khalilah Ali is also an award-winning author, martial artist, actress, producer and motivational speaker. She currently acts on and helps produce the Amazon Prime series “The Grid.”
Ali was also a victim of bullying.
As a child, Ali’s classmates would lock her in the bathroom, causing her to miss the bus. Ali said they did this because she always asked the teacher to assign more homework.
“When somebody bullies you, they’re normally showing they’re in pain,” she said. “They have low self-esteem, and the best way for them to feel good is to hurt somebody else. It’s a cry out for help, and the best way to help a bully is to stand up to them.”
Classmates would also go through her bag, until Ali once brought a garden snake to school which eventually got loose. The class was in panic, but the young student finally had proof she was a victim of bullying.
“I said just look and see who saw the snake first and that’s the person that went into my bag,” she said with a laugh. “I just pushed back.”
Ali will take photos with fans, sign autographs and give motivational speeches at Almony’s basketball game.
Her mission is to inspire those in attendance, spread awareness for bullying and how to combat it, while also getting to know the people of Maryland’s Lower Shore. But Ali understands one topic that always comes up is her former husband, who she was married to for 10 years.
During the pair’s marriage, Muhammad Ali was stripped of his heavyweight title and suspended from boxing when he refused to be drafted into the military, citing religious reasons.
Khalilah Ali stood by her husband during the criticism, often serving as the backbone in the pair’s relationship. Her experience makes her a prime candidate to speak at the August event, sharing wisdom but also stories about the champ.
One story will be Ali’s introduction to fighting — something that came from his interaction with a local police officer.
“Muhammad Ali had his bike stolen …and he wanted to fight the person to get it back,” Ali said. “If it wasn’t for officer Joe Martin of Louisville, Kentucky; he told him to come with him and learn to fight so (Ali) didn’t hurt himself.
“He went to the gym and trained, and guess what, he never went back and fought the guy. Sometimes a positive can defer someone from something negative.”
Almony, who was named the 2020 Humanitarian of the Year by LV Magazine, said his goal is to raise at least $50,000 for the event.
Halftime shows, contests and pre-game events will also take place, along with meet and greets and autograph sessions.
The game is expected to become an annual event, but Almony said it has yet to be determined if it will be held on the Shore going forward. His current focus is on August, hoping to host a game that inspires youth and brings awareness to important issues.
“Everyone has to do their part,” he said. “People often think bodyguards are just there to look good, but there’s a deeper reason. We are protectors, positive influences, we have to be highly trained in this profession.
“We want to make a big impact.”
Tickets can be purchased at bubbaalmony.com. Interested sponsors or venders can contact Almony at email@example.com.