NBA star brings basketball skills and life lessons back to the Boys & Girls Clubs in Rochester
NBA championship basketball player and Rochester native Thomas Bryant held his annual free basketball camp over the weekend at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Rochester.
Bryant, who now plays for the Miami Heat, signed autographs and posed for pictures and talked about his journey to get to the NBA.
He spoke to the kids at the Saturday event about the importance of hard work, staying determined and never giving up on your dreams.
“The reason for visiting is just showing my face more, physically,” explained Bryant, “so that way kids can see that can see that someone that made it out of here is coming back, and you actually have a person that you can actually see. And for me to come back and do my camp, my basketball camp that I've been doing for a few years straight, is a really big impact as well."
Bryant said that he spent "hours and hours and hours" at the Boys & Girls Clubs when he was a kid, and he hopes that by holding his annual camp and he can inspire someone "to just keep going, keep pursuing their dreams."
Bryant said his former basketball coach and mentor at the Boys & Girls Club, Reginald Smith, was inspiring and helped him grow as a person.
Smith, who also attended the basketball camp on Saturday, remembers the day Bryant’s mom brought him to the Boys and Girls club at 5 years-old and told him her son wanted to play basketball.
“When Thomas came down, you had to be six years old to be a member of the Boys and Girls Club. And Thomas was five, but he was a huge five,” said Smith, “and I told her, sign him up. He was a baby on the court, he had no idea what to do on the court. And then she just started bringing him daily, me and Thomas started building a relationship and then went from there.”
Smith noted that even at a very young age, Bryant said that one day he was going to be a professional basketball player.
Bryant, who was also a basketball standout at Bishop Kearney High School in Rochester, said that Smith’s mentoring helped shape him into the professional he is today.
Bryant said that Smith always gave him “honest opinions” and the NBA star added that “for him to always do that, always give me the realness of life, that really helped me, that really helped me grow as a person.”