Boston Celtics superstar Leon Powe and Rap artist Mr. Fab with students attending the two day Leon Powe’s basketball clinic at the campus of Merritt College in Oakland. Photo by Gene Hazzard.
By Ken Epstein
Leon Powe, former Cal All-American, helped the Boston Celtics win the NBA title in June. Now, the Oakland Technical High School graduate is back in his native city to share his expertise with young people.
Last Friday and Saturday, he put on the second annual Powe Folk’s basketball camp for 200 young men and women ages 7 to 18. Held in the Merritt College gymnasium, it cost $25 for the two days.
“We want to bring something positive to Oakland, especially for the kids,” Powe said. “We want to give them something that they can take into their in everyday lives.”
Before they broke for lunch on Friday, some the young athletes told Powe what they learned that was new.
“I learned two things, how to use my feet on defense and how to dribble through my legs,” said Nyla, age 9.
Bianca, 7, said she learned to do a chest pass and play defense.
“I learned how to dribble with my left and how to do a left hand lay up,” said Jamani.
While the camp focused on basketball techniques, the underlying themes were respect for education and hard work, both of which have been extremely important in Powe’s life.
“Hard work is everything, in basketball and in education,” he said.
Though he did not do well academically in the ninth grade, he began to apply himself to his studies. He graduated with a 3.2 gpa in his senior year.
Powe himself had many obstacles to overcome in his life. Fatherless at 2, homeless at 7, he eventually spent a number of years in the foster system. He mother, Connie Landry, died when he was a high school junior.
“You have to keep working hard, there ain’t nothing else about it,” Powe said.
“It isn’t cars, it isn’t money, it’s none of that. This is a dream come true. If you get to play in the NBA, you want to be the best player you can be. I know I do.”
Powe said he is committed to continuing the basketball camp. “We’re going to keep this going every year, to be a positive role model for the kids.”