D-Fenders Guard Darren Cooper Visits Hollywood Boys & Girls Club
D-Fenders guard Darren Cooper recently took time away from his offseason workout schedule to visit the Hollywood Boys & Girls Club. “Coop” spent most of his time with the teenagers, first speaking with the group and then shooting around with the teens in their indoor basketball court. Before leaving, he received the grand tour of the Hollywood Boys & Girls Club by Athletics Program Coordinator Michael Adams and some other members of the club.
Having already received the D-Fenders “Hero Among Us” Award during the 2007-08 season, Adams was thrilled to have a member of the D-Fenders visit with the youngsters. “This was a great event,” Adams said. “Darren is just starting out his professional basketball career and our athletics program is also just getting started out. It’s nice to see someone else who is also trying to build from the ground up because we can all learn something from each other.”
Cooper started his visit by discussing his path on the hardwood leading him to the D-Fenders. From growing up in Portland, OR to how he joined his first basketball team when he was six, all the way to the present where he practices in the same facility as the Lakers (even telling the teens about how he practices against some of the Lakers). Darren then went onto speak about the necessity of an education and how not everyone is going to always to be able to rely on basketball. He taught the teens about the importance of treating people with respect, never believing the naysayer’s and to always give a 100% percent effort in everything that you do.
The crowd listened to Coop as he told his story and then answered all the questions that the kids threw at him. The questions ranged from how old he was when he first dunked a basketball all the way to who his favorite NBA player is (past and current), even talking about who his best competition he had ever played against (he was quick to respond that it was hands down KB24). When all questions had been answered, Coop reached behind the table and surprised all the teens with gold D-Fenders T-Shirts and spent the next 30 minutes signing anything the kids could find to autograph.
Once the teens had all of their autographs, they took Darren over to the Clubs new basketball court. Earlier this season, as part of the partnership between the NBA and Toyota (“Project Rebound”), the Lakers resurfaced the hardwood floor in the gym. Darren showed the kids a few of his moves, draining several 3-pointers and even showed off his hops by finishing off gym time with a slam dunk that brought the kids to cheers.
After spending time on the court, Darren was taken on a tour of the Hollywood Boys & Girls Club’s facility by Adams and several of the teens. He visited the teen center, the game room, technology center, and the music room. The teen center, where the oldest members of the club get to “chill out” during the day by watching TV, playing video games, or just lounging around in some comfortable bean bag chairs, was the first stop on the tour. Then there was a stop in the game room (which included pool tables, bumper pool, foosball, ping-pong and more). Upstairs is where Coop saw the technology room, updated by the Lakers last season with over twenty computers as well as Lakers Purple and Gold painted walls. Lakers Lamar Odom and Vladamir Radmanovich were on hand for the dedication ceremony and autographed the wall in the technology center. Finally, he toured the music room where club members can sign up for guitar or piano lessons at no charge. Music students from UCLA come to the club and volunteer their time to teach the instruments they love.
Darren and the D-Fenders want to thank Mr. Adams and all of the children at the Hollywood Boys & Girls Club for the spectacular visit and hope that we will see you again this upcoming season.