Portland Parks Foundation celebrates gift from Ime Udoka

Ime Udoka enjoys a visit to Irving Park where he honed his basketball skills as a kid.
>>Audio: Listen to interview with Ime Udoka.

As a Portland native, Ime Udoka grew up playing hoops in many of the public parks around the Rose City. Recently, Udoka made a $5,000 donation to the Portland Parks Foundation in honor of the influence local parks and recreational programs had in shaping the success he enjoys today.

On Thursday afternoon Udoka, Portland Parks Foundation and Udoka’s I-5 Elite Team gathered at Irving Park to celebrate the gift. Irving Park's basketball courts are significant to Udoka because that’s where he honed his skills as a young man.

Udoka fondly recalls the time he spent in neighborhood parks with Portland Parks & Recreation staff and volunteers who taught him the importance of teamwork and cooperation, which he believes helped him achieve success as an adult.

"I learned the importance of education, staying healthy and fit and doing your best, both on and off the court," said Udoka.

Udoka's gift will support Portland Park’s Project Inclusion, which provides scholarships to kids from low-income families so they may participate in Portland Parks & Recreation programs. Project Inclusion's goal is to ensure that at-risk kids have equal access to recreational and educational programs designed to foster positive youth development, encourage a lifetime of healthy habits and connect young people to their community. To date, Project Inclusion has provided local youth with over $650,000 in recreation scholarships and program support, including multicultural outreach.

"The Parks Foundation's primary goal is to maximize the enjoyment and benefit that our beautiful parks provide to all," said J. Isaac, Portland Parks Foundation Board Member and Trail Blazers Senior Vice President of Business Affairs. "Project Inclusion creates opportunities for deserving youngsters to participate in parks programs, and it is especially gratifying to see someone who benefited from those programs giving so others can be included. Ime's character and hard work, on and off the court, sets a great example for us all, and we are very proud that he has chosen to support this excellent program."

Udoka’s gift to Project Inclusion is one of a number of ways the NBA player has provided opportunities for local kids. He also sponsors the I-5 Elite youth basketball program, which allows local high school kids the opportunity to travel throughout the country to elite basketball tournaments, where college coaches can evaluate their skills for potential student-athlete basketball scholarships-an opportunity they would not likely have otherwise.