By Tonya Pendleton
The former UCLA star says he wants to empower and inspire the community he came from
Russell Westbrook has dedicated himself to excellence on the basketball court and in doing so, has reaped many blessings. Now he wants to follow in the footsteps of other current and former NBA stars like Alonzo Mourning, Jalen Rose, and LeBron James by extending those blessings to those coming after him.
As reported by People, Westbrook will follow in the footsteps of the legendary players by also establishing a school in his name. In conjunction with L.A. Promise Fund, the 32-year-old Washington Wizards player, a Los Angeles native, is planning to open the Russell Westbrook Why Not Academy in South L.A., which will be a middle and a high school.
“The Russell Westbrook Why Not? Academy will deliver world-class education to South Los Angeles youth grades 6 through 12 to develop academic achievers, athletes and active citizens committed to social change,” a press release said.
Westbrook and his wife Nina Earl, who have three children are working on the academy together with Westbrook’s longtime business partner Donell Beverly. Westbrook and Beverly plan to be on the school’s board “oversee developments at the schools.”
Westbrook has been involved in philanthropic projects through his 13 seasons in the league in both Oklahoma City and in Houston before he joined the Wizards last year.
The 2017 NBA Most Valuable Player is happy to be a part of something that will allow him to give back in a significant way.
“I’ve realized through the work with my Why Not? Foundation how often schools in underserved communities lack the resources and funding needed to support their students,” he said in a statement to People.
“I not only want to inspire and empower these students but I want to help provide the essential and necessary resources to set them up for success beyond the classroom,” he adds.
According to their website, the L.A. Promise Fund is “a unique hybrid, operating programs in partnership with Los Angeles Unified School District at two traditional, comprehensive high schools and a middle school, as well as operating two charter schools in South LA. Further amplifying its impact, the LA Promise Fund runs high profile, far-reaching programs and engagement opportunities available to students and teachers across Los Angeles County.”
Veronica Melvin, the president of the L.A. Promise Fund, says partnering with Westbrook is a natural extension of their goals and his.
“We all know Russell Westbrook’s accomplishments on the court. His pledge to the LA Promise Fund Schools and the South L.A. community demonstrates his deep commitment off the court to uplift the community and positively change lives,” she adds.
Outside of basketball, Westbrook is also known for his ‘eclectic’ fashion sense to the point he has a clothing line called Honor the Gift that features clothing made locally in Los Angeles. When asked if he was hesitant about expanding into an area not affiliated with his day job, he told Forbes unequivocally not.
“Never,” he said in a 2018 interview. “I am a renaissance man. I do a lot of different things, I don’t just play basketball. There are many things I like to do, and this is one of them.”
It appears that mindset extends to his move into education
“Creating and supporting educational opportunities for underserved youth has always been a passion of mine,” Westbrook said in the press release. “It’s so important that every child has access to a good education regardless of their socioeconomic background.”
SOURCE: the Grio