Student athletes from all over West Baton Rouge made their way to Devall Middle School’s gymnasium Thursday morning for an opportunity to learn the game of basketball from one of the most successful players to come from the parish.
Boston Celtics Forward Brandon Bass, who is a native of Port Allen, came back to the area for the seventh year to teach at the Brandon Bass Reach Back Basketball Camp.
“Because of my ties to the area – I was raised on Bueche Road – and because of that, I wanted to come back and inspire the youth,” Bass said during the camp Thursday morning. “I know that these kids rarely get to see an NBA player, and I just want to give back and show my appreciation for what has been given to me over the years.”
Bass spent his elementary school years at Chamberlin Elementary School and most of his fourth grade year at Devall Middle before transferring to a school in Pointe Coupee Parish following the death of his mother.
“In the middle of my fourth grade year, my mom passed. That’s when I moved away,” he said.
During Bass’ Reach Back Camp, he, along with several of his friends, coaches and mentors, traveled to Devall Middle, Livonia High and Capitol High schools to teach participants the fundamentals of basketball and how to reach levels of success.
Kali Johnson, Director of public relations and events at Solid Ground Innovations, the company that helps run Bass’ non-profit organization, said that Bass’ organization was created to serve underprivileged youth and disadvantaged areas through an array of unique programs that help teach youth an range of things, from swimming to music.
She said that Bass’ “Swim Like a Bass” program, held earlier this year, was a program, co-sponsored by Crawfish Aquatics, where more than 200 youth learned how to swim.
“On Saturday, we had “Reach Back” day – Brandon does that every year,” Johnson said. “We go into Progress Park in Baton Rouge, which is in a neighborhood he grew up in, and we gave away 400 book sacks with school supplies.”
Bass said that he is proud of where he comes from, from West Baton Rouge, Pointe Coupee and East Baton Rouge parishes, and is grateful that he has had the opportunity to play in the National Basketball Association.
“The Brandon Bass Reach Back free basketball camp is something I’ve been doing for seven years, and it’s something that I feel like I’m going to continue to do for the rest of my life because it’s an opportunity for me to give back to people the game of basketball that has given me so much,” Bass said. “I feel like God has blessed me and put me in a position to play in the NBA … it’s a blessing for me and I just want to be able to bless others.”