Lakers Open 14th Reading and Learning Center
As part of the 2009 NBA Finals, the Los Angeles Lakers unveiled the 14th Lakers Reading & Learning Center. This time, it was the Salesian Family Youth Center in Boyle Heights that benefitted from the combined resources of NBA Cares, Toyota Project Rebound, Hewlett Packard, and the Lakers Youth Foundation. The Salesian Family Youth Center, like the other 13 Lakers Reading & Learning Centers throughout Los Angeles and Hawaii, received major renovations, including: new carpet, paint, Lakers wall graphics, computers, furniture, books and audio-visual equipment. The updated space will provide members of the Salesian Boys & Girls Club of Los Angeles with a safe place to explore their educational interests.
An envoy of NBA and Lakers luminaries was on hand to introduce the community to the newly renovated center. NBA Commissioner David Stern, NBA Legend Bob Lanier and Lakers Executive VP Jeanie Buss joined Lakers Legends Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, James Worthy, Robert Horry, and current Lakers players Derek Fisher, Sasha Vujacic, Sun Yue at the unveiling ceremony on Friday, June 5th.
The ceremony began with speeches from Commissioner Stern and Derek Fisher before a crowd of several hundred local children. Derek Fisher, who played his first game of organized basketball at a Boys and Girls Club in Little Rock, Arkansas, told the audience about the importance of the Boys and Girls Club in his life. He told the captivated crowd that the club is where he learned, “that I had to respect my teammates, I had to respect my coaches, I had to respect the people who worked at the Boys and Girls Club."
Following the speeches, the NBA representatives and Lakers visited the newly renovated space, filled with Lakers colors and new amenities. After a ribbon-cutting ceremony, the visitors enjoyed the new space with the children. The Lakers Legends, Lakers players and even Lakers’ mothers, read with the children, played board games, explored the new computers.
The Salesian Boys & Girls Club of Los Angeles was founded in City Terrace just northeast of downtown Los Angeles in 1966. The result of the concerted efforts of the Salesian Society and the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, the club was founded on the belief that children should have a haven from which to escape the perils of the streets.