Beal surprises four RBHS students with HBCU scholarships, gifts for college

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Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, Bradley Beal found a way to connect with his little brothers at Ron Brown College Preparatory High School. Beal, of course, won the 2018-19 NBA Cares Community Assist Award for his work with RBHS, a school he has partnered with for two years now.

On Thursday afternoon, members of the Wizards organization and Ron Brown HS went around the D.C. area to give four graduating students gifts from Beal. Justin Williams, Christian Johnson, Jaden Crosson, and Hassan Brunner, who are all heading to historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), each received a special gift box.

Beal’s gift included a college branded hoodie for each Young King’s future university, a Microsoft Surface and keyboard, Between the World and Me by Ta’Nehisi Coates, Radical Dreams Pins, a Wizards and Mystics Black Lives Matter shirt, and more Wizards branded items. Along with each gift box was a letter from Beal and the Wizards telling each student to be on a Zoom call at 4:30 P.M.

On that Zoom call later in the afternoon, Beal praised the students for their hard work en route to graduation.

“I’m speechless,” Beal said. “I’m beyond proud of you guys. For one, you’re the true pioneers of Ron Brown. You guys are the first wave of seniors. That will forever be legendary, a memory you could always hold.”

”I’m even more proud of you guys for going to colleges you all chose to go to – you decided to go to an HBCU. Especially in the time in which we are in now, I feel like those are statement pieces. It’s amazing to see what young, Black men were able to do with the opportunity you guys were given. I remember telling you guys time and time again, take advantage of every opportunity you’re given, no matter what it is in sports, school, teachers, mentoring, programs, whatever it may be. Whatever opportunity you have, seize it – because you don’t always get those moments. We know we’re born with these disadvantages. You guys had a great advantage already going to a school in Ron Brown, which prepares you for college.”

The students figured Beal would be on the call, but they didn’t know what else he had in store for them. Beal, using money from his Community Assist Award $25,000 fund from the NBA, granted $3,000 in scholarships to each of the four students.

Williams, the school’s valedictorian, will be heading to Norfolk State to study environmental engineering. He was especially overcome with emotion, as his journey to having the best grades in the senior class has not been easy.

“When I first came to school, I wasn’t really a school type of student, in the wrong crowd,” Williams reflected. “A lot of people don’t know, but my dad’s disabled. The one thing he told me – because he didn’t get to finish college because it happened at a young age – was to finish school. That was my goal, through mental struggles, physical struggles, family struggles, everything, that was the one thing that I had that I could say that I finished.”

Johnson will be attending Howard University to study finance and to play basketball. He’s been extremely close with Beal since their relationship started two years ago. Considering Beal took Johnson and 50 other students on a trip to Howard earlier in the year, the story has really come full circle.

Crosson will attend Hampton in the fall as a five-year MBA business student. He was with his mother and grandmother at his home when he received the gifts. Brunner, who will be headed to North Carolina Central to major in kinesiology, thought school faculty members were just stopping by to check in with him after graduating.

All of the Ron Brown students and staff mentioned how much they have appreciated Beal’s willingness to maintain their relationship.

“It means that he still cares,” Johnson said. “Even through the pandemic, he still shows up for us. I love it, I’m very excited to continue this relationship with him into college.”

Crosson’s mother, Vanya Brown, echoed Johnson’s sentiments: “We definitely appreciate it. He’s [Beal] been so engaged with them. He’s [Jaden] gotten a lot from everything that Mr. Bradley Beal has done for the school.”

After letting the students know about their scholarships, Beal finished the call with words of wisdoms for four of the seniors who have become like his little brothers.

“Now you’re in the real world,” Beal said. “These opportunities are going to be vast, they’re going to come at you from all angles. Seize them all, enjoy every moment of it. Continue to make yourselves proud, your families proud, and me proud. Please continue to grind, continue to be the best that you can possibly can.”