Hoops for Troops Week Spotlight: Boston Celtics’ Josh Richardson
From the time he was born, providing for others has been a way of life for the Celtics' Josh Richardson.
Giving back is in Boston Celtics guard Josh Richardson’s blood. Literally. His mother, Alice, was a lieutenant colonel in the United States Air Force reserves for 25 years. His father, Mike, was an Oklahoma City firefighter.
Born to two parents who dedicated their lives to helping others laid the foundation for Richardson’s outstanding philanthropy efforts and his commitment to supporting the military community.
“My love of charities comes from my family,” Richardson said. “The way I was raised. My dad was a fireman, that’s a very giving profession. I used to go to the fire department with him when I was younger. He would let me go on calls with him and stuff like that. My mom is also an ordained Baptist minister so she has been in the community since I was little. My pops is a staple in the Black community in Oklahoma City. I kind of looked at how they did things.”
In celebration of Veterans Day, the NBA is hosting Hoops for Troops Week from November 3-12 to honor and recognize active and retired military members and their families.
For Richardson, this is something close to his heart.
“I appreciate the NBA doing Hoops for Troops for the military community,” Richardson said. “The NBA is shedding a little light on the military families and all the sacrifices they have made and that is really important. This raises awareness of the things that are going on. You get the chance to hear their backstories.”
His mother served as his basketball trainer growing up and her military background helped shape Richardson into the player — and more importantly, the person – he has become.
“My mom would wake me up before school and make me go to the gym,” Richardson said. “I used to hate it for a while. Once we got in the groove of things, as I got older, I started to understand it. She’s hard-nosed. She’s military. She’s very disciplined. She carries that military discipline with her in everything she does. Every training session had to be perfect. I had to make a certain amount of shots before I could leave. It carried over to home life. I had to keep my stuff clean and everything. It was good for me.”
Richardson is on the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) honorary board. TAPS provides comfort, care and resources to people grieving the death of someone who was in the military.
“I’m all about helping those in need emotionally when it comes to TAPS,” Richardson said. “People who have experienced huge losses, you know. Growing up military, I never experienced that, but I still relate with those kids.
“Losing a loved one is a very strong experience, a life changing experience,” Richardson said. “For those people before they get to be 15, 16 years old to experience that is unheard of. You hate to hear any story like that. Somehow the kids always find ways to be resilient to fight through and live their life for their loved ones. Every story is a little different with how the family handles the different ways of their loved ones passing. I love hearing that variety but at the same time I kind of want to give them an outlet to be able to speak on that and help them any way that I can.”
As part of Hoops for Troops Week, NBA players wear warm-up shirts to commemorate the holiday. Also, teams are working with members of local military installations, the United Service Organizations (USO) and TAPS to host events for service members and families who have lost loved ones serving in the armed forces.
Richardson, who is in his seventh NBA season and first with the Boston Celtics, will be present Wednesday when Boston holds its 15th annual Seats for Soldiers Night presented by ReliaQuest for the game against the Raptors.
He has donated countless pairs of sneakers and other goodies, hosted shopping sprees and came up with numerous outreach ideas, but the biggest gift he provides is his time.
“Every experience you get to spend with these kids is special,” Richardson said. “I try to live it in the moment, but I try to remember it so I can carry it with me.”
Two years ago when Richardson played for the Philadelphia 76ers, he met a teenager named Elijah Byrd as part of the “Walk In My Shoes” mentorship program who had a particular impact.
“I cherish all of these moments,” Richardson said. “I like giving these kids the moment so they can see we are accessible. I have this homie Elijah from the Philly area. We went to a soccer game and we hung out a few times. We would text back and forth and it was cool to see how as the year went on, we got to talk more as he got more comfortable around me.”
Richardson is committed to continuing to forge these relationships, create those moments and provide that comfort – both during important times of year like Hoops for Troops Week and beyond.