CHARLOTTE – Antawn Jamison knows how special it is to come home, even if it took him a few years in the NBA to fully appreciate it.

Jamison, who was born and raised in Charlotte, has returned to his hometown more than 20 times in his 16-year career. On Wednesday he brought the boys basketball team from his old high school with him.

Jamison visited the Providence High campus Tuesday and had both the varsity and junior varsity players sitting behind the Clippers’ bench during his pregame shooting workout. After that he hung out with them for a few minutes, delivering a message about never giving up.

“The main message is: One, never give up on your dream, because there were so many people who said I would never become what I became, so many people who tried to put doubts into what I wanted to do, and you never understand that it can really affect you,” Jamison said. “And for me to not listen to those people and really stay focused and really believe in my dream and believe in what I want to accomplish, I can accomplish. That’s the main story, or the main point I try to get the kids.

“Look, there are going to be people that are going to try to detour you to what you are trying to accomplish, or say that you’re not going to amount to this, or do that; but anything is possible with just hard work and dedication, and believing in yourself.”

That self-belief for Jamison started at Providence, a place where 20 years later his jersey still hangs, even if the gym and locker room are much improved and many of the teachers and administrators that were there in the mid-90s have since moved on. Jamison still keeps in touch many of the people that helped him along when he was a budding McDonald’s All-American at Providence.

He also had about 25 friends and family members in attendance. But it was a great deal less than when he first came in the league. Back then he was getting requests from a number of different directions, sometimes needing tickets for as many as 75 or 100 people.

“Just to come here,” Jamison said. “It’s a special moment. When I was younger, it was like, family members coming back. But you don’t understand, like people who had influenced me so much and teach me: Guidance counselors, people from the church. It means a lot. This is somebody who is a role model, and we can tell our kids, ‘Look at Antawn. He’s in church every Sunday. And he’s playing.’ You know, to set an example for my kids.”

And that’s what has made this trip back to Charlotte more memorable than many of the other ones. Jamison was able to bring his boys, A.J. and Rucker, to practice Tuesday and they got to join him the locker room after the game.

“It’s unbelievable,” Jamison said. “I can’t imagine being that age, and they love it. That’s one thing as a parent, I would never throw it on them, but they love it. But, they would sit there and watch it from first tip off. They ask questions. They get it. It’s weird. That’s what I really wanted when I was first having kids. It was like, ‘I hope I get it to them’ and I want them to experience what goes into a practice or why daddy is sore after practice. But it’s good for them to get this experience.”