The blue and gold No. 15 on the west wall of John Muir High’s basketball gym in Pasadena hangs beneath a banner recognizing the school’s eight league championships.

Clippers center Ryan Hollins knows these walls, knows what it took to build a program and a community. It’s his jersey, one of four honored by his former school, that is memorialized. It’s been a dozen years since the last league title, one that Hollins helped win.

But he hasn’t stopped coming back, hasn’t forgotten where he came from.


All of the coaches at Ryan Hollins’ basketball camp wore white T-shirts with the phrases “Get Buckets. Basketball Never Stops” printed across the front.

The text “Get Buckets” is in homage to Joseph Frazier, one of Hollins’ former teammates in high school and former assistant coach at Calabasas High. Frazier served as an inspirational leader for Hollins through much of his life, went on to play at Cal-State Northridge when Hollins attended UCLA, and was a regular at Hollins’ basketball camp. In Aug. 2011, Frazier was involved in a hit-and-run motorcycle accident while wearing a helmet. He has been in a coma for the past two years. 

“It was something that doesn’t always pertain to just basketball or just scoring,” said Horace Wormely, who played point guard with Frazier and Hollins at John Muir High. “It was just an attitude in life that he carried and woke up with every morning. He was the guy that would call me or text Ryan at 3 or 4 in the morning and be like, ‘What are you doing? Are you getting better? Are you ready?’ Did you read? Are you doing your stretching?’

“It not only compliments who was as a person but who he was to us every day.”

“I come in and I feel the sweat coming off the walls,” Hollins said on the opening day of his fourth annual basketball camp at Muir. “It’s kind of a mild day, but when you’re in here with 110-degree weather, this gym just doesn’t breathe. You have to give it everything you have and come in and work hard.

“It kind of reminds you and humbles you. We could have gone to an air conditioned gym. We could have gone somewhere else, but this is where I grew up and where I have pride in. So, stepping in this gym alone brings back those memories for me.”

The four-day Ryan Hollins Basketball Camp consists of upwards of 150 children ages 7 to 17. It is in its fourth year and has grown with help from the Clippers, Hollins’ friends and family, and most notably the Pasadena community.

“My name is on it, but it’s the community,” said Hollins with a ‘Coach Ryan’ nametag affixed to his white T-shirt. “That’s why I don’t go anywhere else. It’s not about the money or anything. It’s about the community coming back. A lot of these people, my friends, family, giving back to touch the kids.

“Pasadena is all about pride,” he continued, his voice raising its level of authority. “You talk to anyone who’s from Pasadena, they’ll let you know what it means. For me, to come back here is everything.”

That sentiment shows in the way Hollins bounces around from station to station in the small gymnasium and adjacent court nearby. He is active, hands on. One moment he is talking up one of California’s most sought-after high schoolers in 6-foot-7 sophomore Vance Jackson from nearby La Salle High and the next he’s showing a group of fourth and fifth graders how to properly move their feet in a defensive slide.

Hollins’ energy at the camp is reminiscent of the way he plays on the court. He never seems to take a second for granted.

According to Zach, a 14-year-old point guard, the nearly eight-hour camp is all about working hard. “We go really hard and for a long period of time. The coaches care. They stop and teach. They don’t just let you do something wrong. They stop and teach you and correct things.”

Tray Meeks, who is a family friend of Hollins, head coach at Alemany High and serves as the basketball camp’s director, added, “A lot of the things that we’re talking about is the little things making the big things happen. Fundamentals are so key and I think it’s a dying aspect of USA basketball as a whole. It’s dying. More kids are looking for the flash and spectacular plays and not getting the basics. So, today we worked on pivoting. We worked on pivoting for 30 to 45 minutes, which is like, ‘Really?’ But, yes, because kids don’t know how to pivot. They know how to dunk, but don’t know how to pivot which is really unbelievable from a basketball sense.”

Hollins takes pride in that sentiment about the little things, not just because he is a seven-year NBA veteran, but because he wasn’t afforded the same opportunity when he was an adolescent. Horace Wormely, a lifelong friend and high school teammate of Hollins, described Pasadena’s inner city as lacking in sunny days. A 12-year study that

“It’s something that we never got to experience ourselves growing up here. Ryan’s presence in the community is something we didn’t have growing up. And just being a part of that and seeing how he affects not only the kids, but the parents as well. He’s bringing the community together. It’s tremendous.” – Horace Wormely, Hollins’ former high school teammate and coach at the Ryan Hollins Basketball Camp

concluded in 2011, according to city-data.com, portrays Pasadena as significantly more dangerous than its neighboring cities and showed a steady rise in burglaries and property crimes. Clealry, Wormely was not referring to the weather.

Still, there is something to be said about Pasadena’s camaraderie. Most of the dozens of volunteers at Hollins’ camp call the city home.

“A lot of these coaches are from Pasadena,” said Meeks. “I’m not from the city, but actually live in Pasadena now and it’s very peculiar in a sense that they all come back. You don’t see that everywhere. You don’t really see community, people are so spread out. That’s one of the things that I love [about the camp]. You’ve got kids talking about coming to Stacey Augmon’s camp, a lot of these coaches were in these camps and the fact that they’re coming back because they enjoyed it so much is big for these kids.”

And while he is overly modest about it, Hollins’ presence is big as well. He emphasizes education and fitness. He said if nothing else these kids are going to remember this camp because they’re going to have to work.

A number of campers had parents sitting in the wooden bleachers in the gym, watching.

“They listen to him (Hollins) and have to follow directions,” said a parent named Luis, who has a six-year-old and eight-year-old in the camp. “They have to have respect in order to succeed. They need that anywhere they go in life.”

Hollins lives the message as he prepares for the 2013-14 NBA season as well.

“I’ll wake up around 5 a.m., get here and get my work in before these kids come in,” Hollins said. “[I have to] stay on pace. I can’t just speak it. I’ve got to live it.”

And more than anything that’s what his camp is all about.