A handful of students from OCDE’s alternative education program learned more than just basketball fundamentals at A.C. Green’s five-day Leadership Camp this summer. They also took home valuable career and life skills.
Green, for those too young to remember, is considered the NBA’s Iron Man, playing in a record 1,192 consecutive games from 1986 to 2001. He also won three NBA championships with the Los Angeles Lakers, starring alongside Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant. Although he hung up his jersey for good in 2001, his annual summer camp for students age 9 to 16 has been going on for about 30 years.
Coincidentally, it was another Green who secured an invitation for eight students enrolled in OCDE’s ACCESS program at the Harbor Learning Center to attend the camp July 11 through July 16. Ray Green, an OCDE paraeducator, isn’t related to A.C., but he knows the 6-foot-9-inch former power forward.
“A.C. just loved everything about our kids,” Ray Green told the OCDE Newsroom. “It was such a great opportunity for them, and they really grew from it. It was much more than they expected it to be.”
It was also quite a commitment. Ray tells us his students reported to the Harbor Learning Center each day at 6:45 a.m. to travel to Esteban Torres High School in Los Angeles, and they often didn’t return home until 4:30 or 5 p.m.
At the camp, which is organized by the A.C. Green Youth Foundation, A.C. and his team of elite coaches and professionals challenged the students on and off the court. Sure, the campers learned basketball fundamentals including dribbling, rebounding, attacking the basket and teamwork, but they also took part in breakout sessions that taught them about nutrition, finances, college and decision-making. And three field trips offered tours of Dodger Stadium, the California Science Center in Los Angeles and USC.
“None of our students had ever been on a university campus before,” Ray Green said. “Basically, they are planting seeds in the kids to prepare them for what they need to get into college.”
As impressed as the students were with their famous host, the feeling was apparently mutual. Ray Green says A.C. has already extended an invitation for ACCESS students to return next summer, opening up as many as 30 spots.