Gordon Continues To Assist Those In Great Need

Aaron Gordon
by John Denton

ORLANDO – Already an award-winning difference-maker for the work he’s done in the Central Florida community, Aaron Gordon’s generosity for those in need apparently knows no bounds.

Gordon, a standout forward for the Orlando Magic and the reigning co-winner of the Rich and Helen DeVos Community Enrichment award, expanded his charitable works to Northern California last weekend with a couple of events to benefit those in great need.

Doing work not far from where he grew up and became a basketball star in Northern California, Gordon teamed with ``My New Red Shoes’’ to provide new shoes for several students in the Orchard School District in North San Jose. During an event dubbed ``A.G.’s Back-to-School Shopping Spree,’’ Gordon provided new shoes for 25 local students prior to the 2019-20 school year in San Jose.

Orchard School, which serves approximately 900 students from Pre-K through eighth grade, is located in an industrial area in North San Jose and some 56 percent of the students reside in low-income housing. When students struggle to fill even the most basic of needs – such as clothing and food for school – learning can be more difficult. Gordon did his best to try and ease those burdens for some of the students in North San Jose.

``Orchard School is grateful to Aaron Gordon and `My New Red Shoes’ for the support,’’ said Wendy Gudalewicz, Superintendent, Orchard School District. ``Students who otherwise would not have had the opportunity to begin the new school year with new shoes and clothing will receive a boost of self-esteem and will be able to begin the school year focused and ready to learn.’’

A day earlier in East Palo Alto, Calif., the 23-year-old Gordon was doling out advice on the basketball court in a free clinic he put on for members of the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Peninsula (Northern California). In neighborhoods served by the BGCP, approximately 25 percent of the students are affected by housing instability, 70 percent read below their grade level, 80 percent are first-time English learners and 35 percent fail to graduate from high school.

Gordon, who led nearby Archbishop Mitty to three state titles while growing up in San Jose, worked with players in basketball drills, answered questions and offered up some of the tactics that he has used to be successful at the NBA level for the Magic.

``Meditation is big,’’ Gordon told the campers, referring to one of the secrets that allowed him to average 16 points, 7.4 rebounds and a career-best 3.7 assists a game last season for a 42-40 Magic squad that reached the NBA playoffs. ``You’ve got to breathe and clear your mind.

``The second thing is visualization,’’ Gordon continued, telling campers. ``You’ve got to visualize your success out there on the court. Throughout the game, there are going to be things that go on – when you make a bad play or have a bad turnover – you don’t want to visualize that … no negativity. All you want to visualize is you hitting shots, getting to your spots, hitting the open man, running the lane, winning the game and hitting the game-winner. Those are the things that you want to visualize – having (the basketball) come clean off your hand, making your free throws and using whatever your go-to move is.’’

Gordon’s work helping those in need is nothing new, of course. This past season, he shared the prestigious Rich and Helen DeVos Community Enrichment award with Magic teammate Jonathan Isaac because of his work in the Central Florida Community. Gordon won that award after teaming up with Amway to sponsor a Thanksgiving meal distribution, taking kids from the Boys & Girls Clubs in Central Florida on a holiday shopping spree, participating in the Magic’s OMYF Open Golf Tournament and partnering with military members for a commitment to service project during Hoops for Troops Week. Also, Gordonhas been a leader for two straight years in his CodeOrlando program, which teaches underserved communities about computer science, robotics and artificial intelligence through creative technology projects.

Recently, Gordon was asked to address several groups of young basketball players at the Junior NBA Global Championships in Orlando and he jumped at the opportunity to have an effect on the lives of others. Clearly, he takes his responsibility as a role model for youngsters very seriously.

``My biggest message to kids these days is to not be afraid to fail,’’ Gordon said recently. ``Life has so many opportunities day in and day out and we’re not always going to make the correct decisions every single time. You’ve got to be able to get over that quickly, learn from your mistakes and be better players and people from it.’’

Note: The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Orlando Magic. All opinions expressed by John Denton are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Orlando Magic or their Basketball Operations staff, partners or sponsors.

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