Tigers Star Helps By Hitting The Court

By Tim Twentyman
Updated: January 26, 2008

DETROIT — If not for a broken thumb during his sophomore season at the University of Illinois-Chicago, Curtis Granderson’s career path might have turned out a bit different.

Instead of shagging fly balls in center field for the Tigers, Granderson could be shooting jumpers as a guard in the NBA.

“I remember we ran a pick play to second base and the guy slid back and got my thumb,” Granderson said. “It’s funny because the night before I got the OK to try to walk-on to the basketball team.”

“Who knows — if I would have made the basketball team, the basketball season would have gone into the baseball season and I would have missed six to eight games of the baseball season.”

Granderson was a good basketball player at Thornton Fractional South High in Chicago and lettered his sophomore, junior and senior seasons.

Granderson swapped his baseball bat for a basketball Saturday to raise money for the Grand Kids Foundation. Granderson and fellow Tiger Nate Robertson coached a bevy of all-stars in the inaugural Curtis Granderson/Grand Kids Foundation Celebrity Basketball Game at Avondale High School in Auburn Hills.

“Curtis is doing a good thing with his foundation, and being the only local guy who lives here year-round, he asked me if I’d like to do it,” Robertson said. “Anytime I can go out and raise awareness and help kids out I like to do it.”

The game pitted current and former athletes from the Detroit area against athletes from the Flint area. Granderson coached the Detroit team and Robertson the Flint team.

Because of contractual obligations, Granderson isn’t allowed to play in the game, but promises a pretty inspired halftime display.

“I’m already threatening to get thrown out,” Granderson joked on Friday about being relegated to coaching. “It’s going to be tough to warm up with the team and not play, but we have a 3-point competition planned for halftime and some other things will get me out there.”

Granderson established the foundation in 2006. The foundation aims to enrich educational experiences, develop scholarship programs and provide athletic gear for inner-city youth.