When LaTonya Simmons was busy at work to support her four children, she never worried about where her oldest son would be after school.
Jonathon Simmons would be at a Boys & Girls Club near their home in North Houston, playing basketball for hours on end.
“I remember staying at the Boys & Girls Club until momma said come home,” Simmons said.
On Thursday, Simmons, Stars guard Kayla McBride and general manager Ruth Riley were at the Eastside Branch of the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Antonio, where they made 50 new friends.
The Spurs and Stars led the kids through a clinic as part of the second annual Jr. NBA Week. Simmons, McBride, and Riley told the boys and girls their stories, ran them through dribbling and defense drills and led a game of knockout.
By the end of the clinic, Simmons had a few children draped all over him, while a dozen kids hugged McBride at once.
“I have children who are about the same age, so it’s good to see children besides mine playing and be able to help them,” Simmons said. “I still go to the Boys & Girls club and visit whenever I’m back home. It’s still such an important place in the community.”
Simmons told the kids all about his role model, his mother, and how she encouraged him to pursue his dreams.
“It doesn’t have to be basketball, as long as you love it,” he said. “Find something you love to do. That’s what matters.”
Simmons was joined by five members of the Spurs basketball operations staff to give the kids some one-on-one lessons. Boys & Girls Club board member Luis de la Torre said the long-term impact of the clinic will be “incredible.”
“It’s important for kids to meet their heroes,” de la Torre said. “To see the Spurs and Stars step up like this, now they can see a path to success and they can believe in themselves more.”
As she left the Boys & Girls club, McBride was playing with a new piece of jewelry. One child gave McBride a friendship bracelet.
“Just to get a little bond with a kid, it means a lot,” McBride said. “They all kind of jumped on top of me and it was great. We want to give them someone to look up to, and I’m glad we’re able to come here and do that for them.