Growing up on New York’s Long Island, Spurs guard Danny Green and his basketball loving pals played anywhere they could find a schoolyard or playground that wasn’t already occupied. None of them, Green said, were as nifty as the new Slam-Dunk Sports Court at The Children’s Shelter Residential Treatment Center that he helped inaugurate on Wednesday after a ribbon-cutting ceremony that celebrated the completion of the sports facility.
Cory Basso, Group Vice President of Marketing and Advertising for H-E-B, presided over the ceremonies. It was Basso who convened a team of community leaders to provide for the renovation and installation of the brand-new court, a $50,000 undertaking.
The Children’s Shelter Residential Treatment Center provides therapeutic interventions for children ages five through 12 in an in-patient setting to heal from hurts as a result of chronic trauma from abuse and neglect.
In May, Basso was named The Children’s Shelter 2016 Angel of The Shelter. He has been working on behalf of abused and neglected children for more than 25 years, the past 13 of which he has been in San Antonio. He was the driving force behind the renovation of 40 bedrooms at the Residential Treatment Center (RTC) and the construction of a 31-seat movie theater at the facility. After seeing some of the RTC’s youngsters playing basketball on the cracked, pitted foundation of a house that had been razed, he then set about raising the money for the Slam-Dunk Court.
“This was a lot of fun to do and they really needed it,” Basso said. “So to see this come together and see it be a multi-use facility – volleyball, badminton, four-square and tennis, as well as basketball – has just been an exciting process.
“H-E-B has been a big part of this, as well as Spurs Sports & Entertainment and, of course, Susan Moulton and the Will Smith Foundation. The three of them helped fund the project, and Grand Slam Sports Courts was an important part of it, as well.”
Basso explained the importance of the facility to the youngsters who live at the Residential Treatment Center.
“These kids have had the most trauma of any kids, the most extreme cases in San Antonio,” he said. “It gives them a sense that they are special and that people care about them and that people will go above and beyond the call of duty to help them heal.
“I think this will be a big part of their healing, having a nice place to hang out and play.”
After the ribbon cutting, several groups of children from the shelter took to the court adorned with the Spurs logo for a few games of “Knock Out” with Green. Green believes he and other prominent athletes can make a difference in the lives of young people in need of role models.
“I think we all can (make a difference),” he said. “Any particular person that they may look up to for some reason gives them hope that they can be something great. And they can. It gives the positive energy, positive attitude and the mindset to be strong and be able to make it and go do something special.
“That’s all I try to do: Give them that hope, that mindset. It’s all mental. If you believe it then you can do it. If you give them the inspiration, make them believe something, they can for sure do it.”
Wednesday’s game on the RTC’s new court took Green back to a time when he and his basketball loving friends could only dream of one day playing basketball in the NBA.
“We found a court wherever we could find one locally,” he said. “We never had anything as nice as this (Slam-Dunk Court), but we made it work. Some of them didn’t have nets, some were double rims, some had chains, some didn’t have lines but we made them work. We played until the street lights came on.
“I think it’s great these kids have a court like this where they can play and dream the way I did when I was their age.”
Top image: Spurs guard Danny Green interacts with Spurs Coyote on the newly opened court. Photo by Scott Ball.