The Los Angeles County of Parks and Recreation, the Los Angeles Clippers Foundation and Clippers star Russell celebrated the renovation of 117 new L.A. County basketball courts on Thursday. A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held at the Jesse Owens Park Courts where Westbrook learned the fundamentals of basketball in his youth.
“We talked about making sure that kids feel welcome; they feel like they’re worthy and they deserve it all,” said LA County Department of Parks and Recreation director Norma Edith Garcia González. “They know that they’re worth it and we’re investing in them and that is the gift that Russell Westbrook and the Clippers organization have made to Jesse Owens [Park].”
Westbrook, who attended Leuzinger and UCLA, leads the NBA in triple-doubles and was the 2017 league MVP. He hopes that his efforts on the hardwood and in the community will persuade others to reach their goals.
“What I’ve done on the court is great, I hope that inspires people too,” Westbrook said. “But I hope the things that I’ve done off the court and will continue to do off the court is something that inspires people to do great things.”
L.A. County Board Supervisor Holly Mitchell presented a proclamation to the Clippers Foundation for their contributions to the community throughout Los Angeles. She reminisced on how one of her first meetings as a Board Supervisor was with the nine-time NBA All-Star.
“He is committed to the community that helped raise him and he is committed to the parents here in supporting your children,” Mitchell said. “Can you imagine how may WNBA and NBA future athletes are gonna call this home court with this logo their home? Countless.”
The Clippers Community court at the gym in Jesse Owens now has Westbrook’s name on it. During his speech at the ceremony, he gave a shout-out to his childhood coach Reggie Hamilton. To show his appreciation, he gave Hamilton a framed jersey.
“[Westbrook] when he was younger, you can see he had very competitive spirit and he really wanted to learn and get better,” Hamilton said. “And then he kept carrying out from middle school to high school to college.”
Prior to the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Westbrook and his Why Not? Foundation hosted its 12th annual Thanksgiving meal giveaway where he distributed 1000 meals.
“This gym is beautiful, this floor is awesome and I want to thank the Clippers for making this possible,” said LA County Parks Foundation president Joe Mendoza. “I was here for 10 years and witnessed [Westbrook] coming in every year doing clinics, Thanksgiving dinners, giving back to the community like the Clippers are doing.”
Several local kids attended the ribbon cutting; Mendoza informed the youth that Westbrook played basketball in the same gym. Kaylin Minor-Muhammad, 10, said a speech at the ribbon cutting. She plays for the Junior Clippers at Jesse Owens Park; Minor-Muhammad said been frequenting the park for six years. She has also attended Westbrooks’ basketball clinics.
“You really don’t get to see an NBA player all the time because it’s really rare,” Minor-Muhammad said. “I like the new gym, I like speaking and talking on the podium.”
With the renovation of the 117 courts, the total of Clippers Community Courts in Southern California have reached nearly 500.
“In 2008, the Clippers were presented with an opportunity to refurbish a select number of courts in LA. It was a small request,” said Clippers president of business operations Gilliam Zucker. “But Steve Ballmer, he doesn’t do anything small.”