Ballers Give San Diego Youth A Chance

SDSU Graduate, and NBA All-Rookie of the San Antonio Spurs, Kawhi Leonard, is hosting his first Annual Youth Basketball Camp with a percentage of proceeds benefiting the Boys to Men Mentoring Network, (August 7-9) in San Diego, California.
Athlebrities stopped by the camp to see what this rookie sensation had to say for himself. After all, he’s an SDSU alumni. And although Leonard is notorious for being quite-and perhaps a bit shy-we had no trouble getting him to speak longer than our allotted time.

kawhi leonard

On College:
“I went for two years and haven’t gotten my degree yet, right now I’m not taking classes but hope to finish in about three-years when I’m established in the league, we’ll see what happens.”

On his role with the San Antonio Spurs next season:
“Pretty much the same guy, probably a little bit more aggressive, I’ll probably get more play since I shot the ball well and you know, you’ll see me being more aggressive and more comfortable on the court.”

How did he adapt so quickly from being a rookie to being called up?
“Just having a great group of guys around me, like now in San Diego, and the Spurs giving me a great little work-out schedule for me during the lock-out, just a lot of playing and working out hard.”

In reference to his involvement with the Boys to Men Mentoring Network:

“Boys to Men and the YMCA, there are a couple of kids that I met before the camp, I met them a week earlier and talked with them one-on-one about their life and personal problems and answered some questions about basketball.”

The Boys to Men Mentoring Network is designed to help match successful adult men with boys and teens that lack a male role model in their lives. The mission is to provide communities of male role models who listen, accept and encourage teenage boys to become good men. They give boys the opportunity to make a conscious choice about what kind of man they want to become, and offer them hope, support and guidance on their path to manhood

Also at the camp, was SDSU phenom Tim Shelton, who was one of the guys that pretty much carried the team after Kawhi left. He is also one of the biggest under-the-radar-givers I’ve met in a long time. He spoke at length about After School All Stars.

“Last year was my first year with getting involved with unprivileged youth,” he told me. “I worked with After School All Stars as a volunteer and we started this campaign called Every 26. Every 26 seconds a kid drops out of high school in America, so what I did was-I made a song, and from some of the song lyrics we made t-shirts to sell for $26, got the community involved and raised over $40,000 for these kids.”

It’s interesting to note, that most people-at least in San Diego, heard about this campaign from you before most NBA players were promoting it?

“Yeah its funny, we had done some things and then I saw the commercial Lebron did and I was like cool.”

So how did this fine baller end up with a soft spot for giving back to the community?

“When I was younger, about fifth grade, I got jumped into a gang and I vividly remember a lot of things happening and I had to turn it around, I was interested in sports, at some point I ended up living with my mom in a shelter for a while, so after- school sports for me and sports in general really changed my life and anything I can do to give back I’m there.

Although After School All Stars wasn’t an option at the time, they still had an impact on his life.

“The story is-the lady who runs it, her name is Tyree Dillingham-I was at a camp they run every summer at SDSU, they basically take these kids and give them a program or schedule of skills and workshops to develop skills and confidence to stay in high school. So I helped out for a few hours and afterward I asked Tyree how she got involved and she said she started small-donating shampoo bottles to a place called Mary’s House in Sacramento, and I said, oh my god, I used to live there, LOL, so we have this kinda bond to keep helping.”

So what do you think about todays camp?

“It’s great, I’ve had the opportunity for the first time to do a few camps this summer, I did Kobe’s camp and I’m doing Baron Davis’s camp next weekend. But yeah, Kawhi is a great guy, we played together in college and he’s always had that work ethic and mentality that he just wants to try and get better. I’m really excited for him, he’s very quite but a great guy.”

Many thanks to Waterhouse Sports & Entertainment for hosting us~

As always,
Thanks for reading.