NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — An NBA Hall-of-Famer is working to make sure kids in the East End of Newport News where he grew up know that people care about where they end up.
You could say Allen Iverson held center court in the community on Friday, unveiling a new place for kids to be surrounded by positive influences.
At the same Boys & Girls Club on Hampton Avenue in Newport News where a young Allen Iverson practiced a shot that would pay dividends for years to come, a crowd gathered as the now former NBA star came back to pay it forward.
“It means everything to me,” said Iverson. “I’m from here. Obviously I was one of these kids.”
“This gymnasium is an asset in the community,” said Hal Smith, President & CEO Boys and Girls Clubs of the Virginia Peninsula. “It’s really what gets kids in the door. It’s a place for them to come after school and have the encouragement to get through high school and then to have a plan for the future. For a guy like Allen Iverson, it was to play in the NBA.”
For others here though, who knows what the future holds?
Whether they’ll be teachers, doctors, lawyers in part because of teamwork to make sure they have a fair shot.
Signed, sealed and delivered, the new state-of-the-art basketball court is all for the kids. While some kids practiced drills inside, others enjoyed community day outside, soaking up the sun and the sentiment behind this huge event.
“Growing up in the Boys and Girls Club they always ensured that I was going to school,” said Jakayla Bellamy, 2017 Youth of the Year. “Anything I needed help with they were always there. This gives you something to look up to you. Don’t see that many people from Newport News, Downtown especially, achieving great things like that.”
There’s a story behind every success. The times you dribble out of bounds, the times you have to course correct, and if you’re Allen Iverson, the day you come back to give back with pride.
“It just makes me feel so good about myself to be able to inspire,” said Iverson. “To be able to encourage these kids where I’m from and let them know that dreams do come true.”
And thanks to Reebok donating 150 pairs of shoes and backpacks that were filled with school supplies from other local community partners, all of the kids that came out today are one step closer to being ready to head back to class in a few weeks.