LOS ANGELES-It’s the holiday season. This is the time of year where humanity is at its best as the need to lend a hand to help others becomes more out of free will rather than obligation. It becomes the right thing to do. Giving is not just the right thing to do; it is a form of appreciation.
They say that giving is caring. And if you care, you share. The Los Angeles Clippers do both when it comes to their endless hours and time serving impoverished communities in and around Los Angeles.
This is a treat in itself for families and children who can’t afford to take a step inside Staples Center to witness Blake Griffin throw down a thunderous jam or see Chris Paul break an opponent’s ankle with a nifty shake-and-bake move.
Most of these individuals are just trying to make it from day to day. Their lives are more centered around survival and getting by rather than sitting idle and watching the NBA TV. So when news spread that the likes of Griffin, Paul and other members of the Clippers will be coming through the neighborhood to help pass out food or teach students a thing or two about the game of basketball, it becomes a big deal in the community.
Hosting a basketball clinic for a select group of students in South Los Angeles like the team did in October at 122nd Street Elementary School, located in the heart of a high-crime neighborhood in the city, is indeed a big deal to Paul and his teammates who attended the event.
“A lot of these kids may never get an opportunity to see us play,” Paul said. “It’s just fun to come out here and put a smile on their faces and show them some of the things that we were taught as a kid, as far as trying to live a healthy lifestyle, just getting out, exercising and playing.”
Paul, in speaking to the media at the event, which was part of Jr. NBA week activities, said it is important that he and his teammates show themselves as being part of the community.
“For us, whether you like it or not, you’re a role model,” Paul said. “These kids look up to us. They want to emulate us and stuff like that, so to get out here and actually be able to touch them, have a conversation with them, means a lot.”
It’s not unusual for a professional sports team become engulfed in communities their fans flock from. The Clippers,, however, get knee-deep in their charitable contributions. The giving the Clippers do through their charity arm-the Los Angeles Clippers Foundation-reaches across a wide-range spectrum of organizations, nonprofits, schools, civic stakeholder and community fixtures.
As the holidays hover around, the Clippers and the Los Angeles Clippers Foundation will be out front and center in various communities throughout the city doing their best to bring cheer and joy to youths and their families. But the giving doesn’t stop there. Giving back to the community is a year-round mission of the Clippers and the Los Angeles Clippers Foundation.
Serving others is truly a platform the franchise believes in. Look around and there’s a good bet you’ll see Clippers players making a stopover somewhere to do a community function. Whether it’s participating in a golf tournament, going to pass out food and personal items at the local Salvation Army, pitching in to help with expanding a Boys & Girls Club activity center or hosting a youth basketball clinic, the Clippers seem to be everywhere in Los Angeles communities.
While a majority of people see the bright lights of fame that galvanize these pro athletes, the side that many don’t get to see behind the scenes are that of individuals who take part in community functions with joyful hearts, not only because of a team mandate, but also because giving back to your community is something that’s been put in them.
They are the community. That’s why it should not come as no surprise when Paul, Griffin would show up at schools like 122nd Street Elementary School in South Los Angeles and give students goosebumps just by taking the time to show them some basketball tips.
Last year, Wesley Johnson was on the Los Angeles Lakers. He switched jerseys and now play forward for the Clippers this season. As a newcomer, Johnson said he likes the community vibe that resonates with the ballclub.
“I love it,” Johnson said. “Just to see how much they give back, how much the fans and everybody embrace it, so for us giving back and for us to give a helping hand and to show the support they give us night in and night out when we have games, it’s the least we can do.”
It should not be unexpected that guard Austin Rivers, DeAndre Jordan, Paul Pierce and Jamal Crawford would make their way out to Salvation Army Siemon Family Youth & Community Center in South Los Angeles to help feed more than 1,200 families.
This is the Clippers’ way.
“It’s great because there are a lot of people in need,” Rivers said. “It’s amazing kind of pulling up to this event with so many families lined up. They’ve been here since 7 a.m. This tells you that there are so many people who need more help. It’s one of those things we know in LA there are a lot of people here and average income is $24,000. That’s before taxes. Then you have people with six or seven kids. How do you do that? It’s vital; it’s not important-vital for us to have stuff like this.”
Rivers sees what he and the Clippers do in the community as essential work.
“Sometimes you have to sit back and understand how people see you,” Rivers said. “And when you do that, first of all, it makes you feel good. It’s more of a responsibility. It’s not about feeling cool or feeling good about yourself. It’s more about understanding your role and responsibility to humanity. That’s how I look at it. There’s a lot of people here that need help. We have enough time where we can come and give people help.”