Clippers, City Year Host Gift-Giving Event

Rowan Kavner

LOS ANGELES - Playing basketball got Jamal Crawford to the NBA, but it’s events such as Friday’s he said he appreciates the most about being a professional athlete.

Crawford and Pablo Prigioni went to 93rd Street Elementary School, Austin Rivers and Branden Dawson went to Figueroa Street Elementary School and Luc Mbah a Moute and C.J. Wilcox went to Compton Avenue Elementary School, as the Clippers participated in a holiday gift giving event for children at schools in the Watts area.

“These moments can last a lifetime,” Crawford said. “They’ll remember when they met myself and Pablo and the people here, and they’ll remember if it was a good memory or a bad one. When I was a kid, I met people that were cool and some that weren’t so cool, and that stuck with me forever. I still remember to this day, so I know how important these days are.”

In total, all five of the targeted elementary schools the Clippers Foundation supports in Watts and Compton through its City Year partnership will benefit from the Clippers’ holiday events.

Crawford helped distribute gifts and books to 100 students, and he had his son by his side.

“We do a lot of different things in the summer, and I always try to bring him,” Crawford said. “First, you have to drag him out there. Then, you tell him what you’re doing, he starts to get it. He’s like, ‘Oh, I want to go.’ So, hopefully you can kind of set the foundation of how you want him to grow up and be appreciative.”

Crawford said he felt blessed growing up just to get one gift, and he can tell how appreciative and thankful each child was at 93rd Street Elementary.

Prigioni, who’s also a father, said it’s amazing to see the kids’ faces when they receive their gifts. He added how important it is for the Clippers to be involved in the community and help schools and children whenever possible.

“We share time with them, and they start to ask about everything,” Prigioni said. “’How tall are you? How big are your shoes?’ Things like that. Coming here even just 20 minutes would make them happy. Sometimes we are playing games, traveling, we don’t think about these kinds of things. But when you come in here, you realize it’s very important.”

Erin Ross, managing director of development for City Year Los Angeles, said the kids at the events are all served by City Year in the classrooms, and Friday the goal was to provide holiday cheer for all the deserving students.

“They’re kids we’ve identified as needing some extra care and support, especially around their academics,” Ross said. “These are kids who have a City Year AmeriCorps member who works with them during the day to make sure they’re understanding their lessons, getting their homework done. Today, we’re really excited to get to reward them for their progress.”

City Year is an education-focused, nonprofit organization founded in 1988 that partners with public schools and teachers to help keep students in school and on track to succeed.

The L.A. Clippers Foundation re-launched in September with a historic three-year, $3 million commitment to City Year Los Angeles as part of the City Year Opening Day Ceremonies at Microsoft Square in downtown Los Angeles. It was the single largest cash gift in the Clippers’ history.

The Clippers Foundation will focus its support on City Year’s work in five of L.A.’s highest in-need elementary schools, all located in the Watts area. More than 3,000 students a year in the five targeted schools will be impacted by the Clippers Foundation, which continues to make a positive difference to children in L.A.