LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- Former NBA Star and Louisville native Allan Houston is back on the court. This time, he’s up against some smaller players and hoping to make a big impact.

Houston partnered up with Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Kentuckiana which created the Allan Houston Mentoring Initiative in February.

“I've been back twice and just to see them physically grow, taller, and you know, just the maturity, confidence,” said former New York Knick Allan Houston.

Houston returned to Louisville for an Appreciation Dinner celebrating the ten-month program that's aimed at providing a support system to help more youth achieve lifelong success. Big and Little Pair Ryan Foster and Bill Loyd believe it’s working.

“All the principles that I remember is faith, integrity, sacrifice, leadership and legacy,” said Little Brother Ryan Foster.

Every other week, 25 kids and 25 mentors focus on those core principles, but of course, there’s a little bit of basketball, too.

“I played basketball with him, one-on-one,” said Foster.

“It's been a lot of fun on the court, but it's really been good off the court,” said Big Brother Bill Loyd.

The program is underway during a very violent year in Louisville where both victims and suspects have gotten younger and younger.

Foster said he has a message for kids who find themselves in trouble.

“Don't see yourself behind bars, picture yourselves free, don't ever do the stuff that you're doing right now,” he said.

Loyd said he's grateful that his little brother Ryan has taken his own advice.

“It's great to know that he's not involved and to know that he's got community events to be involved in and school,” said Loyd.

Houston is a big name spreading a bigger message to help make Louisville a place for young people to grow.