Oladipo Surprises Local Youth Program

Amid his demanding rehab schedule that bounces him between the Pacers and the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, Victor Oladipo took the time to surprise roughly 40 kids from the Mars Hill Youth Basketball Program at Stout Field Elementary school with jerseys and basketballs. The event was part of the Jr. Pacers program cared for by Ascension St. Vincent.

"It means a lot, you know, just being able to come out in the community — to give back to it, especially the kids," he said after running drills with them. "Obviously, you know, they have a youth program, a youth league. They needed some jerseys, some basketballs to help them get through the league. So, for myself — and for the Pacers — this means a lot for us to be able to give back and to be able to help them out."

The former Indiana Hoosier and two-time NBA All-Star spent one hour with the kids. He even led a fundamental shooting drill on one end of the court, teaching students the proper stance and form it takes to sink jumpers like a pro.

After the drill, Oladipo split the kids in two groups and held a competition. Whichever group sank five jump shots first had the privilege of watching the other group do five push-ups and a full-court sprint.

"There's nothing like it," he said, smiling. "Just coming out here and hanging out with — especially kids. Kids, they give you a newfound energy that you didn't have when you might've walked in, or woke up this morning. But they got it. And if you don't keep up with them, they'll leave you behind. So it was awesome. I had a great time. And I enjoy stuff like this."

As the practice came to a close, Oladipo left with a message that hopefully resonates with the kids beyond the court. He reminded students to have confidence in everything they do, regardless if something doesn't go your way. That "even when you miss, you make it."

"I see [myself] in every child," he said. "We are all human at the end of the day, you know? So, even though we're not cut from the same cloth, you might not come from the same human being — we're all still humans, we're all still kids, we all still have similar feelings and similar curiosities. I can see it in them. At the end of the day, my job is to come out here and give them memories, give them moments that they'll never forget, and try to help them with their future. That's my duty and obligation, and when they get older — hopefully they can do the same for another group of young kids."