Three…Two…One! The blue ribbon fell to the ground marking the official opening of the newly renovated indoor court at Family T.R.E.E. donated by the Chris Paul Family foundation with State Farm and Spaulding. The nearly 30-year-old court was given a face-lift complete with fresh paint and a brand-new modern backboard.
Family T.R.E.E. serves as a resource and a space for families and children within the Child Welfare System to spend time with each other and reunify their family. For Chris Paul, family is everything. In fact, the unmistakable design of the court was created in part by Paul and his 10-year-old son. Upon entering into the new space, kids and families will be greeted with the phrase ‘Family First. Family Last. Family Always’ sprawled in giant letters across the back wall.
The father-son pair sat down and talked about what was most important to them – family. As a result, the court was filled with bright colors. The lane was painted red and peppered throughout were the astrology symbols for Gemini, Aquarius, Taurus and Leo representing the signs of each member of the Paul family. In partnership with Spaulding, Paul and his son created a basketball that featured the same key aspects of the court, bright colors and family signs.
“It was very important. I always say I’m lucky to have an unbelievable support team around me,” said the Thunder point guard. “It was a heck of a coincidence because we designed the ball and then came Family T.R.E.E. so it was very fitting.”
The space hummed with activity from the kids who were gearing up for an inaugural basketball clinic to break in their new court. But to this group, this was more than just a court and Deb Shropshire, Director of Child Welfare for the State of Oklahoma Department of Human Services knew best what effect the new space would have for the kids:
“The children served in this place are in foster care which means they aren’t getting the chance to be around family every day and so to provide spaces where those kids can play, they can forget about their troubles but also enjoy time with their family is really, really important to us and there’s no question that the court renovation and the beauty of the space and that basketball court will allow us to see kids enjoy great days.”
The great days began on Friday as Chris Paul ignited a game of dribble tag with the entire group. Paul won the game with ease but having the opportunity to lose to one of the best point guards in the league on a brand new court meant more than losing the ball out of bounds. The kids were now a part of Paul’s family.
“Just understanding that they just want somewhere to play, a safe haven and that’s what kids should have,” said Paul.
“There’s absolutely something to be said about imagining your hero, your role model could be thinking about you. Many of the children we serve in foster care feel hidden or they feel like their story’s not known,” said Shropshire. “Being known or feeling like ‘someone’s watching out for me’ is a really important part of healing for those kids.”