Hundreds of kids and their parents lined up outside the Al Davies Boys & Girls Club on Monday afternoon to receive school supplies, groceries and autographs from NBA players as the Big Assist program stopped in Tacoma.
The program is an initiative of the Gametyme Foundation, which receives contributions from NBA players to buy items for low-income youth and their families.
“Every kid idolizes athletes, they’re like modern-day gladiators,” said Gametyme Foundation founder J. Johnson. “And to have (NBA players) there giving back they’ll never forget this.”
Avery Bradley, a former Bellarmine Preparatory School basketball standout, said he knew he wanted to bring Big Assist to Tacoma last season when he heard his Boston Celtics teammate Keyon Dooling talk about his work with the foundation.
“It’s important to me to give back to Tacoma, I grew up right down the street,” Bradley said. “It’s going to be good to see the smiles, not just on the kids’ faces, but the parents’, too.”
Bradley, Dooling and Seattle native Spencer Hawes of the Philadelphia 76ers were on hand for the Big Assist’s inaugural visit to Tacoma. The NBA players gave away gift bags filled with everything from snacks to paper towels to more than 200 Tacoma kids and their families.
“They’ll know that in this time of need there’s always somebody there to help,” Johnson said.
Boys & Girls club area branch director Sierra Raynor said the impending arrival of the NBA players generated a buzz around the Boys & Girls club.
While the Big Assist was designed to provide economic relief to low-income youth, it’s also intended to leave kids motivated and inspired. The trio of NBA players all shared their journey to success with those in the crowd. While their paths to the NBA were all different, their message to the youths was similar: If they apply themselves, they can do anything.
“Each and everyone of us has some sort of gift to help you get to that next level,” Dooling said. “You can become anything you want we’re living proof of that.”
The Big Assist is not the only chance for Tacoma youth to get school supplies before class is back in session. Community in Schools Tacoma will be at the Salishan Housing Authority Family Investment Center Wednesday from 1-2 p.m. giving away everything a kid needs to be prepared for the first day of school.