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Grizzlies tip-off 2012 Read to Achieve

Joe Murphy/NBAE/Getty Images

It was Dr. Seuss that said, “The more you read, the more you know. The more you learn, the more places you’ll go.” And that’s the message some Grizzlies players encouraged to students at Downtown Elementary School on Tuesday afternoon.

All-Star Reading Team members Wayne Ellington, Jerryd Bayless, Quincy Pondexter and representatives from Memphis Grizzlies and International Paper went back to elementary school, literally, to host the annual Read to Achieve Tip-Off, presented by International Paper.

View photos from the event.

Nearly 300 students filed into Downtown Elementary’s multipurpose room to catch a glimpse of the Grizzlies players, Grizz and the Grizz Girls during a special pep rally to kick off the festivities where the players led the students through several screaming contests, chants and cheers. Students also had the chance to win Grizzlies T-shirts and towels.

Afterwards, the All-Star Reading Team members shared the story Llama Llama Mad at Momma by Ann Dewdney to students in the school’s library, where they discussed their favorite books and the importance of reading in their lives.

“I developed a love for reading when I was young,” said Bayless. “Even though, I am not in school anymore, I continue to read and make my brain grow. It is something that I try to do every day because you don’t want to be stagnant, and reading is what you can do to fulfill that.”

While it was clear by all the smiles on the students faces that they enjoyed the Read to Achieve Tip-Off, the Grizzlies players were also particularly happy to be a part of the event.

“I love doing events like this because it puts a good value on education,” said Pondexter. “Without my education I wouldn’t be where I am today. It is so many things that you have to go through that you have to read that you might not know when you are a kid. It really pays off.”

The NBA’s Read to Achieve program, presented locally by International Paper, is a year-round campaign to help young people develop a life-long love for reading and encourage adults to read regularly to children. Reaching an estimated 50 million children a year, Read to Achieve is the most extensive educational outreach initiative in the history of professional sports. In addition to being supported by all 30 NBA teams, Read to Achieve is supported by the NBA's officials, parents and wives of players, organizations and the NBA Players Association and Retired Players Association.