Derek Fisher Makes $700,000 Donation To
University Of Arkansas At Little Rock
Derek Fisher, along with his mother Annette and brother, Duane Washington, present the gift to UALR athletic director Chris Peterson. (Rocky Widner/NBAE/Getty)
The majority of the gift will go to establish and fund the “Fisher Fellows” program, which will provide guidance to children from nearby Southwest Middle School to better prepare them for the high school experience and eventually to go to college. The students will be paired with UALR student-athletes to learn concepts of life and academics, as well as organizational, social and athletic skills.
Additionally, a portion of the donation will go towards the construction of an auxiliary gym inside the school’s new Stephens Center. In recognition of this generous gift, the University has proposed to name this auxiliary gym the Fisher Gym and make it the home of the new Fisher Fellow program.
“I'm extremely fortunate to be in a position where I can provide my assistance to something that has had a huge impact on my life and career -- the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and the outstanding citizens of that community,” said Fisher. “I hope this mentoring program will give some of the students in Little Rock the chance to reach their potential and achieve their dreams, much like I had the opportunity to do so as a youngster. If this gesture results in having a positive impact on one, 10 or 100 students, it will certainly prove worthwhile.”
“Just as Derek Fisher wants to honor his hometown with a program like the Fisher Fellows, we at UALR are honored to have the opportunity to recognize this outstanding alumni by naming the auxiliary playing court within the Stephens Center the Derek Fisher Court,” said Peterson.
Initially, 20 sixth-graders - 10 boys and 10 girls - will be selected to participate in the Fisher Fellows program. The students will be paired on a one-to-one basis with a same-gender UALR student-athlete mentor. Each year, 20 additional students will be added to the program so that by the third year, 60 Southwest Middle School students will be paired with a UALR student-athlete. The mentors and students will meet at least twice a month.
“Guidance and mentoring are critical at this age,” said Jay Pickering, assistant principal at Southwest Middle School and a teammate of Fisher’s at Little Rock Parkview High School. “These youngsters are trying to be adults with only a child’s knowledge and experience. The Fisher Fellows program can promote the sense of identity, belonging, security and inclusion that adolescents need to become unique and important individuals.”
Fisher, who played at UALR from 1992-96, was the Trojans first-ever NBA first round pick when he was selected by the Lakers with the 24th overall pick in the 1996 NBA Draft. He was the 1996 Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year and was twice named Sun Belt All-Conference. He is the third-leading all-time scorer in school history with 1,393 points and first on the all-time free throws list with 399.