Tigers honor HYPE Athletics founder as part of Arab American Heritage Month

April 18th, 2024

DETROIT -- HYPE Athletics was founded in 2001 by Ali Sayed with an inclusive approach in mind. Sayed aimed to create a space that would aid in youth development by providing athletic opportunities alongside academic, social and counseling resources.

Sayed said he was fortunate to grow up with friends from diverse backgrounds, allowing him to learn the importance of bringing community members together from different walks of life. Athletics was the common ground between him and his peers, regardless of their different backgrounds.

“The mission was just to bring young adults together in a drug-free, voluntary, diverse athletic environment,” Sayed said. “I wanted to promote unity, acceptance and tolerance. Traditional sports were a platform, and it immediately blossomed to after-school programming for kids, specifically instructional programming.”

Ali Sayed speaks at Riverside Academy in Dearborn, Mich. (Photo via Alex Leroux)

HYPE Athletics operates out of three metro Detroit locations, based in Dearborn Heights, Wayne and most recently Belle Isle, Mich.

“Our facilities include fitness, basketball, track, indoor track, volleyball, soccer, football programs, Taekwondo, boxing and all the other athletic resources, as well,” Sayed said. “They’re fairly large facilities, and we’re hoping to add an additional 40,000 square feet to the Dearborn Heights location within the next year or so.”

Once the organization started growing, Sayed decided to introduce a social services component, per request from parents in the community.

“There were a lot of parents reaching out to us and asking us what to do with their child who's skipping school, smoking cigarettes, obese or anti-social or whatever the issues were that arose within the family household,” Sayed said. “We added a social service component that included tutoring, mentoring, counseling, intervention, career development, health education and life skills.”

Ali Sayed presents at a backpack donation event. (Photo via Alex Leroux)

Shortly after, a substance abuse educational coalition was formed due to the lack of resources available and the rise in cases among young adults in the community.

All the social service programs are free. Most of the youth athletic programs are fee-based, but there are financial assistance programs to aid community members.

The Detroit Red Wings and Detroit Tigers Game Changers program, presented by Comerica Bank, recognizes community members who are committed to making a positive change. Sayed is the third honoree in this month’s Arab American Heritage Month series.

Ali Sayed takes part in a food donation at a local Detroit firehouse. (Photo via Alex Leroux)

“Focused on creating opportunities through unencumbered access to sport and social services, we have long admired the work of HYPE Athletics and Ali Sayed,” Ilitch Sports and Entertainment Director of Community Impact Kevin Brown said. “As our organization continues to celebrate Arab American Heritage Month, we're thrilled to name Ali as a Game Changers honoree for his leadership in championing the incredible potential of every child and family impacted by HYPE Athletics.”

To learn more about Sayed and HYPE Athletics, visit hypeathletics.org.