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Ben Gordon Returns to His Home To Give Back
Native son relishes the chance to interact in Community
MOUNT VERNON – In a time when economics are on shaky ground and selfishness, close mindedness and stubbornness is on the rise, there are some that see things through a different shade of glasses and get it. NBA star of the Charlotte Bobcats (soon to be Hornets), Ben Gordon returned home to Mount Vernon, NY to celebrate his 8th annual Ben Gordon Week (aka BGW or BG Week). From what started out as Ben Gordon Weekend has blossomed handsomely into Ben Gordon Week. This year (2013) the festivities will run from August 19th through the 25th with a neighborhood BBQ. And if you ask Gordon, he’d tell you that he loves every minute of it. “This never gets old for me, it just gets better and better,” Gordon said.
It’s not unusual that athletes do things to give back to their community and alma mater. But it is somewhat eye opening for a professional athlete to set aside time out of their busy schedules in the off season to enthusiastically give an entire week to their community out front and be actively involved.
The way Ben prepares himself to participate in BGW is almost akin to how he diligently and methodically gets himself ready for battle on the court. For BGW, Ben prides himself in the fact that he personally is in on the discussions and decisions for the litany of activities that are scheduled. From basketball clinics, to symposiums with renowned professionals in the sports world that are asked to lend their time to speak with Mount Vernon youngsters regarding career choices and options within sports (other than playing).
Then there are basketball games in Mount Vernon’s historical, Hartley Park featuring this year a girl’s game to add to the high school division boy’s game. The basketball-world celebrity basketball game will be played at Ben’s former high school, Mount Vernon High. Gordon provides full uniforms for the participants in the games that display his trademarked “BG” logo on them.
And in the midst of all the goings on there is also a Gospel concert and a talent showcase where young artist are able to exhibit what they can do, up close, live and in person to hundreds of Mount Vernonites.
There is a picture taking and autograph session set up outdoors in Hartley Park at the gazebo. Ben personally signs each autograph. There is no signed stamped signature piece. Ben visits the Mount Vernon public library and reads to children. He visits the YMCA where he helped build and refurbish a children’s playground. And so many more activities that are listed and those that aren’t on the agenda that is advertised on BGW official banner that drapes across the front of Mount Vernon’s City Hall steps.
Gordon who was born in England 30 years ago but raised in Mount Vernon credits his loving mother, Ms. Yvonne Gordon and his deceased grandmother (Ms. Avis Gordon, whom he loved dearly) for keeping him straight and in line while growing up.
With that, Ben really gets excited when he plans the symposium part of the activities because he views it as a vehicle to help inspire kids to reach for their dreams. Ben of course realizes that most kids growing up in the inner city these days either want to become professional athletes and or entertainers. But what concerns him is his knowledge that every kid that aspires to be a professional athlete; only a select few will be chosen.
What happens from there? Is a question that Ben ponders over with his concern that young people have options to be successful. “Everyone obviously won’t become a professional athlete, but that shouldn’t take away the opportunity for them to strive to be successful in life,” Gordon said.
Ben realizes too that aside from his immediate family’s help and guidance there were some in the neighborhood such as Lowes Moore (another former pro that played with the New Jersey Nets, who is now Director of the Mount Vernon Boy’s and Girl’s Club where Ben spent plenty of days) that helped him along the way. So his passion for giving back to others coming after him is even more profound.
Kudos to Ben Gordon for realizing it still takes a village to raise a child.
Jerald L. Hoover