Celtics Host Inaugural Jr. Celtics Kickoff Event
ROXBURY, Mass. – The Boston Celtics, in partnership with Chipotle and New England Baptist Hospital, hosted the inaugural Jr. Celtics Kickoff event Saturday with more than 200 youth from various YMCAs and Boston Centers for Youth and Families. The event brought youth from various backgrounds together to play the game of basketball, but more importantly get to know each other.
Upon arriving, each kid received a participation gift pack that included a cinch bag, water bottle, New England Baptist Hospital bone pens and T-shirt. Participants were then divided up into two sessions, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, with teams playing four games. Whistles were blowing, sneakers were screeching and coaches were instructing as the day progressed. The youth enjoyed the games and on some occasions split their team in half with their opponent so they could play with kids they had never played with before.
Midway through the day, with some youth tired and sweating from the morning games and others fresh-faced and ready to play in the afternoon, participants from both sessions came together to hear from Boston Celtics power forward Brandon Bass and Lucky. Bass spoke on how he made it to the NBA.
“I’m from Baton Rouge, Louisiana and I went to LSU,” he said. “I’m kind of a journeyman. I played on four different teams: New Orleans, Dallas, Orlando, and now I’m here with the Celtics. The reason why I’m here today talking to you all is because of hard work. When I was kid, I had a dream of playing in the NBA, so every day when I woke up I thought about the things I could do to improve my chances of making the NBA. The first thought that came to my head was making sure I went to school every day and made good grades. Second was to go to basketball practice, give it my best effort and spend extra time in the gym when everyone else went home. If you’re a hard worker and dedicated to achieving your goals, you will be successful in life. Things won’t always be easy. Throughout your life you might face a variety of different obstacles but don’t let anything stop you from being the woman or man that you want to be someday.”
As the youth listened intently to what Bass had to say, it was evident that his words were resonating with them. Following his words, Lucky addressed the group.
“Before I begin, I want to get a sense of how many of you love basketball,” said the mascot. With everyone’s hand raised, Lucky continued. “I love basketball too, but I want to be completely honest with you, I’m a horrible basketball player. I’ve played my entire life and I’m still not better than when I was a kid, but I love the sport. I had to find some way to pull that passion for basketball into another direction. I realized at a young age I wasn’t going to be an NBA player. When I was about 17 or 18 years old I found out I could flip for a living at a basketball game. The point is I found something I loved, I grabbed onto it and every single day, I made it mine. I found something I love to do for a living. There is nothing better than waking up every day excited to go to work. Whether it is basketball, whether it’s gymnastics, whether it’s being a standup comedian, teacher or doctor, if you find something you love, hold onto it. If you love it, embrace it.”
The crowd erupted in cheers after Bass and Lucky spoke to them. There was a new understanding about how hard they needed to work in order to achieve their goals. As the halftime assembly ended, the second session youth began to get ready for their basketball games. Additionally, a player from each morning team was recognized for their hard work during the session and given a Celtics hat autographed by Bass.
At the conclusion of the second session, players were also awarded for their hard work and recapped what they had learned from the day.
“I learned that being a star athlete isn’t everything,” said one youth. “Being a great teammate is better.”
“Education is really important,” replied another kid. “If you don’t take school seriously then you won’t reach any of your goals.”
In the end, the youth learned a lot from the kickoff event. They met kids from all different places in the Boston area that they may never have met without the event. They were able to hear from Bass, a seven-year NBA player, about what it takes to reach your goals and they listened to Lucky about finding a career they love.