Carmelo Anthony Inspires Students With Red Carpet Treatment
He was simply making his way up the aisle steps to take his seat along with everyone else waiting for the movie to start.
Inside the dim-lit auditorium, Carmelo Anthony continued to hold their gaze like a gravitational pull as heads turned while leaving pupils flared and mouths agape.
Once settled in and reclined, Anthony exchanged quick head nods with teammate Nick Collison who was just a few seats away. Then the house lights went dark followed by hushed silence signaling showtime.
Through the Carmelo Anthony Foundation, the Thunder forward hosted “A Very Melo Christmas” for 170 students from Oklahoma City Public Schools, where they gathered to watch a private screening of the film “Ferdinand” at Harkins Bricktown Movie Theater.
“This is an awesome way for him to embrace the Oklahoma community and his work here,” said Charmaine Johnson, principal of Taft Middle School.
A red carpet meet-and-greet kicked off the Thursday matinee for Anthony and the excited students as they posed for the flashbulbs.
A couple of spellbound students shared their disbelief with one telling the other “That’s Carmelo Anthony!” when they spotted him walking inside the theater. Overhearing them, Anthony whooped “Yeah, yeah!” in acknowledgement as he delivered hand slaps along the way.
A few more tiny voices piped, “You did good in the game last night!” and “Good game yesterday Melo!” with a smiling Anthony bellowing back thank you’s.
For Anthony, the afternoon gave him the chance to let loose with the kids by inviting them to one of his favorite pastimes.
“Just giving kids the opportunity to relax, laugh a little bit and enjoy a movie,” he said. “The experience of going to the movies is having popcorn, having smoothies and candy and laughing and joking. Being there for those moments.”
Also, Anthony’s movie-going celebration served to inspire the students who wrote about how they can positively impact their community and improve their own lives. Their essays resonated with a gracious Anthony who delivered a pep-talk prelude centered on prioritizing their education and leaning on the people around them to reach their goals.
And for the boys and girls on hand, Anthony hoped to instill in them a sense of commitment to not only better their futures, but also to see their world through a civic prism.
“I’ve been doing this for a long time,” he said. ”Oklahoma City is new to me, but the same focus is to give back.”
A red carpet welcome. Anthony arrives to greet the students on hand before a private screening of "Ferdinand" at Harkins Bricktown Movie Theater . Photo by Layne Murdoch | NBAE via Getty Images
Be more. A Very Melo Christmas is an annual holiday event that rewards 250 deserving middle school students who submit an essay describing how they display a “be more” attitude in their family or community. A “be more” attitude is described as “an attitude of determination to be more than the world around you says you are. Photo by Zach Beeker | OKC Thunder
This is why we play. Each student came away with not only special gifts from Anthony, but also a message and memories to take home. Photo by Zach Beeker | OKC Thunder
Watch: A Very Melo Christmas at the Movies