A crowd of local Los Angeles students and fans erupted as NBA superstar James Harden turned the corner into the Audubon middle school playground, rolling in on top of a fire truck with music blaring and sirens blazing for his “Imma Be A Star” block party on Sunday (June 24).
Adidas transformed Harden’s alma mater into a basketball oasis for children from the Adidas Legacy basketball program operated in the greater Los Angeles area. The free event allowed children to participate in on-court basketball competitions and games led by some of the nation’s top sports trainers. The event also served as the unveiling of 12 newly renovated outdoor basketball courts donated by Harden and Adidas’ Basketball.
The “Imma Be a Star” event title was in reference to a written note that Harden left for his mother as a freshman at Artesia High School that read, “Could u wake me up at 7:00 and could u leave me a couple of dollars? P.S. Keep this paper Imma be a star.”
After Harden’s grand entrance, he and his mother, Monja Willis, took to the stage to address the crowd. “Be genuine, be kind,” was Harden’s message to the children and fans.
Kris Aman, the general manager for Adidas’ Basketball, joined Harden and Willis on stage as he announced that the partnership would also update the school’s gym in time for the start of the upcoming 2018-19 school year.
Harden then walked to the crowd to ink his signature on over a dozen shoes, shirts, and hats as he interacted and took pictures with students and fans. The day concluded with live performances by rappers Famous Dex and Rick Ross as Harden danced along on stage. Fans were also treated to a special appearance by NBA rookie of the year nominee Donovan Mitchell.
Harden made good on his promise to his mother that he would become a star and put an exclamation to his note a few days later with his selection as the 2017-18 NBA Most Valuable Player of the Year at the NBA Awards held in Santa Monica. After being drafted third overall in the 2009 draft out of Arizona State University, Harden ascended to stardom from the Oklahoma City Thunder where he came off the bench, to his move to the Houston Rockets where he led the NBA in scoring this past season.