Perkins Shares Life Lessons During Visit at Thunder Youth Camp

From the questions they asked, you would have thought that the participants at this week’s Thunder Youth Basketball Summer Camp, presented by Cox, wanted to outfit Kendrick Perkins with a new wardrobe.

But their fascination with his height, weight, shirt size, shoe size and everything else probably stemmed from the fact that none of them had ever seen an NBA center up close.

Perkins, who spent part of Monday afternoon with 80 camp participants at Mid-America Christian University, happily answered those questions and more after speaking to the kids about some life lessons he’s learned that have helped him achieve success.

Using the word “pride” as an acronym, Perkins highlighted the importance of pride in yourself, respect for others, making intelligent choices, having dreams and goals, and education. He shared his background of losing his mother at a young age and being raised by his grandparents, of driving himself to work hard so that they could enjoy things they never had when he was growing up.

“My dream was to make it to the NBA so I could buy them (his grandparents) a new house,” Perkins said – which is what he did with his first NBA paycheck.

Along with questions about his favorite teammate, NBA team, all-time Hall-of-Famer and color, one of the younger campers asked what it feels like not to win a big game – but to lose.

Perkins chuckled with the rest of the crowd of kids, parents and coaches and responded that losing is a part of pursuing your goals, one that can make you work harder.

“You always want to keep (that feeling) in the back of your mind,” he said.

One thing Thunder players do on camp visits is to help the kids run skill-building drills that the coaches set up. With one of the groups, Perkins seemed to be taking over and changing up the drill so that he could get more one-on-one time with the kids.

With the smallest kids – campers range in age from 5 to 16 – Perkins scooped a few little ones up in the air so they could have the sensation of dunking. Though one child missed three consecutive dunks (the last one of which went off of Perkins’ head), the Thunder center didn’t flinch. He later even hugged the noggin of a girl whose head he had inadvertently grazed with an elbow.

For as much as he’s known for tenacity and intensity on the court, Perkins showed a gentle and gracious heart when working in this community setting. Even though players don’t usually sign autographs at camps, and even though it meant a much longer afternoon, Perkins insisted on signing every single participant’s T-shirt.

Who was going to tell Kendrick Perkins no?

This week’s Thunder Youth Basketball Camp is the first of six week-long summer camps running now through August throughout the Oklahoma City metro. Children ages 5 to 16 are welcome to participate. All Thunder Youth Basketball Camps are presented by Cox Communications. CLICK HERE for more details on these and other upcoming camps.