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Minority Students benefit from Magic’s and NBA All-stars philanthropy

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By G. Montgomery
BVN Staff

Staples Center- Wrote Carter G. Woodson in his 1933 book The Mis-Education of the Negro: “When you control a man’s thinking, you don’t have to worry about his actions. You do not have to tell him to stand to go yonder. He will find his ‘proper place’ and will stay in it.

You do not need to send him to the back door. He will go without being told. In fact, if there is no back door, he will cut one for his special benefit, his education (or lack of education) makes it necessary.”

Far too often the media and its readers focus on the negative occurrence in sports and life. Every now and then and athlete runs astray of the law and presents himself or herself as wayward individuals, However, through my years of involvement with the sports community, I’ve seen overwhelmingly more positive than negative.

Just as Woodson noted in his book, “when you control a man’s thinking, you control his actions.” The Magic Johnson Foundation is taking dead aim at that dynamic. The Foundation, which has raised millions of dollars for charities, has as a mission statement: The support of community-base organization and the development of programs that serve the health, education and social needs of those residing in inner cities.

With these noble goals as guiding principles the Magic Johnson Foundation has implemented a vehicle that is aimed at creating and environment that will allow youth to step through Woodsman’s front door while firmly planting in youth minds that education is attainable and necessary.

Although the foundation was established in 1991 as an organization charted to raise funds for organizations dealing with HIV/AIDS, the direction has expanded to support many community-based organizations.

In particular, The Taylor Michael Scholarships are an attempt to assist minority students with the financial aspects of college life. It’s also important to note these scholarships are extended to all deserving minorities, not just African American minorities.

This year scholarships program awarded more than 30 students with much needed financial assistance, as well as, inclusion in a mentoring and internship program.
The scholarship recipients will get on Woodsman’s road to "free thinking" as they attend Howard University, Berkley, Spelman, Florida A&M, Cal State Northridge, Texas A&M and a list of other institutions too numerous mention.

The Foundation’s program guide lists 97 current scholars enrolled at 65 institutions throughout the United States.

Through all of his good deeds Magic remains humble and enthiusiastic toward ever high goals. This year’s 18th edition of Magic’s Midsummer Nights Magic" has blossomed in size comparable to Magic’s empire. A full week of events begins on the previous Sunday with a welcome day dinner and scholars registration.

On Tuesday the participants roll up their sleeves and get to work, attending a full range of workshops and seminars through the rest of the week. Subject matter includes writing composition, study skills, health awareness, Princeton Review and Graduate School Preparation and entrepreneurial activities. A full schedule of activities beginning with breakfast at 6:00 am and ending around 10:00 p.m.

On Friday, Magic hosts a Kids Mardi Gras for underprivileged youth at the Magic Johnson Recreation Center in Los Angeles. In conjunction with all of the charity and working activities, Magic presents a full schedule of entertainment for the public beginning on Friday evening with Magic’s Comedy Slam featuring comedians J. Anthony Brown, Alex Thomas, earthquake and Melanie Camacho.

Saturday commenced with Magic’s Harlem Knights in LA featuring Stevie Wonder, Chaka Chan and Erykah Badu. Concluding the week was Sunday’s "All-Star Charity game" preceded by a celebrity game made-up assorted TV personalities and Musicians against Street Ballers from MTV’s "Who’s got Game?"

Some of the celebrity participant included Flex Anderson, Mike Rapporport, Big Boy (coaching), Mekhi Phifer, Brian McKnight, Shane Mosley, Joshua Morrow, Joe Torrey and many others.

Some of the participants in this year’s all-star game were Gary Payton, Derrick Fischer and Kareem Rush of the Lakers, Lamar Odom and Quentin Richardson of the Clippers, Ron Artest of Indiana, Antoine Walker and Paul Pierce of Boston, Darius Miles, Lebron James and Jason Capono of Cleveland, Jason Richardson of Golden State, and Baron Davis of New Orleans Carmelo Anthony of the Nuggets and T.J Ford of Milwaukee.

The fans know it’s a charity event when any of the following occur: every player has a smile on his face at the start of the game and maintains it throughout the game; there is six turnovers in the first sixty seconds; there is six dunks in the first sixty seconds; there are celebrities acting as coaches (Steve Harvey) and finally the referees seem to think that the --- hanging from their neck is jewelry.

However, this year’s event differed somewhat from previous years because of the presence of Labron (King) James, the most celebrated high school baller ever and number one pick in the NBA draft, in addition to Laborn, the rookie team boasted NCAA champion, MVP and third overall pick Carmelo Anthony, T.J. Ford, final participant and 8th pick overall, Chris Bosh 4th overall pick and Marcus Bank the 13th overall pick.

The fans got what they wanted, as the all-stars put on an exhibition of high-flying dunking seldom seen in any arena. Most notable was Quentin Richardson and Jason Richardson. "Yes, this was a lot of fun said Jason Richardson, we got to entertain the fans and help the kids at the same time.”

Despite the usual slow start the game actually became competitive down the stretch, with the rookies winning the game 127-124 and fittingly, Labron James scoring the final basket on a monster slam. As he exited the arena, Lebron James removed his shoes and tossed them up a contingent of kids screaming his name. "This is for the kids, its just fun for us" said James. James gesture was truly Magical.

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