NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — A former NBA player is in the Port City this week to share some of his skills on the court and off.
Tamar Slay is helping put on the One Love Basketball Camp for almost 100 kids of all ages at the Wilmington Basketball Center.
If you watch, it may look like just a summer basketball camp, but the coaches describe it a little more like a boot camp.
“We’ve been put through a lot of work,” Kayden Slay said. “I mean a lot of work.”
The coach putting them through all that work is Tamar Slay. Slay is a veteran of 12 seasons in of professional basketball around the world.
“What was it like meeting him for the first time?”
“I didn’t know he was that big,” Augie Ballantine said.
What Augie Ballantine quickly learned after that was that Slay was not going to waste anytime.
“He works us, but it’s good,” Ballantine said.
In between the drills, the scrimmages, and all of the work on the court, One Love Executive Director Lenny Simpson said Slay is doing something else.
“It’s much much more than just bouncing a basketball,” Simpson said. “It’s about making the right decisions.”
Slay is telling them his story.
“When I went to college, I was homeless, and when I left there, I was a hall of famer and a second round draft pick,” Slay said.
It is a lesson of perseverance on and off the hardwood.
“I turned nothing into something,” Slay said. “I was an at-risk kid. It definitely could have gone the other way.”
After talking to just a few of these kids, you can tell they are listening.
“Have they been teaching you about more than just basketball?”
“How to proceed on to life and make good choices,” Tristan Shivers said.
“Being good people in the future,” Ballantine said.
Simpson said whether it is on a court or off a court, once they leave his court, he hopes there is one skill they never forget.
“Never stop dreaming,” Simpson said. “Believe in yourself.”
One Love started as an outreach program using Tennis to get kids involved. Simpson said this is the first time they have done a basketball camp. Click here to learn more about One Love.