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After making his on-court debut days ago at Capital One Arena, Wizards guard Russell Westbrook got to work off the court. On Monday, Westbrook conducted his first community event in his new home.
Westbrook surprised students at The Children’s Guild, a Northeast D.C. Charter School, with Jordan Brand shoes, backpacks, branded facemasks and wristbands. In an effort to maintain social distancing, attendees were able to drive through and receive their giveaways.
“It is very important not just to come to a new place but to show that you actually care about a community,” Westbrook said. “I’m excited to be able to collaborate with The Children’s Guild…to find a way to give back to some of these students and their families for the holiday season. It is very important for me to impact in any way that I can.”
“Being able to connect with youth and community members is very, very important (to me) and close to my heart,” Westbrook said. “Because where I grew up, living in the city, being able to wake up on Christmas morning and be able to have a gift or a new pair of shoes or backpacks or whatever it was – you would be blessed to be able to have that. I feel like this platform has blessed me to be able to do that.”
“He practices what he preaches,” school principal Bryan Daniels said of Westbrook. “He is a true believer that you have to always give back to the community. He did not waste any time…It just shows he believes in the kids and that he wants to do anything he can do to make sure the kids have opportunities. He’s giving back. It’s an awesome gesture that my kids are not going to forget.”
“My hope to contribute to D.C. is to bring my footprint and my platform and touch the community,” Westbrook said. “That’s the biggest part – not just by my words, but my actions.”
Westbrook has a long history of philanthropy and has been active in his home communities since he entered the NBA. Earlier this month, in an interview with the Wizards Podcast Network’s Off The Bench podcast, Westbrook made it clear how much he cares about leaving an off-court legacy where he plays.
“I’m trying to change the world,” Westbrook said. “If I’m not with my kids, my family at home, I’m working on community aspects and trying to give back as much as I give to the game. This platform is great and playing basketball is something I love to do, but at the same time, I want to be able to give as much energy as I give to the game to the community with the things I am doing off the court.”
ABOUT WESTBROOK’S “WHY NOT?” FOUNDATION
The mission of the Russell Westbrook Why Not? Foundation is to inspire the lives of children, empower them to ask, “Why Not?” and teach them to never give up. The foundation works to help children that are facing hardships of any kind and when faced with that adversity fight to succeed and to never give up.
Russell Westbrook and his brother were taught to ask, “Why Not?” every time they were told they could not do something. It is this encouragement and strength that Russell and his family want to spread to children across the country.
Founded in 2012, the Russell Westbrook Why Not? Foundation is dedicated to supporting community-based education and family service programs while encouraging youth to believe in themselves.