One of the last players to make the jump straight from high school to the NBA, Al Jefferson isn’t as young as he once was.
“I have more years behind me than I do in front of me, so now I’m just really focused on the second quarter of my life. And that’s really to reach out to these kids from my hometown and also the surrounding counties.”
For the last eight years Jefferson has returned home to his native town of Prentiss to put on a free hoops clinic, this summer eclipsing the 3,000 campers over that span.
“Oh it’s very special man, never gets old to me. Every year around this time the buzz starts going about my camp, and the kids are so excited and every year I get more kids.”
278 of them to be exact, and that was just from Wednesday.
So as the demand for the three-day camp continues to get larger, so do Big Al’s plans for the future.
“I’m just really looking forward to building my own gym in Prentiss, so I’m able to do more stuff with the kids year-round.”
Jefferson says he had plans to meet with a contractor on Friday, with hopes of breaking dirt on the building process by this same time next year.
“Me, I looked at it like these are my people. Every one of them kids that come through my camp, I knew their folks. I knew their mother, their father, their uncles…and to me that’s just my way of giving back.”
And that’s what it’s all about for the man in the middle, paying it forward because he can.
“Every time I leave here, I feel great. I feel like okay, I accomplished something. And I’m ready to do it again the next year.”
The 8th annual camp wrapped up on Friday.
Jefferson is fresh off signing a free agent deal with the Indiana Pacers earlier this month. He’ll be joining forces with another Mississippi product in Monta Ellis to the tune of a three-year, 30-million dollar contract. This will be Jefferson’s 13th year in the league. He’s previously played for the Charlotte Hornets, Utah Jazz, Minnesota Timberwolves and Boston Celtics. He spent three years with each franchise.