My Day with Devin Harris (part 1)

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by: David Kay

In an era in which professional athletes are too often egotistical and appropriately labeled as “divas” or “pre-madonnas,” it is refreshing to come across a player like Devin Harris.  Despite his newfound stardom in the NBA, the Wauwatosa East product and former Badger has stayed humble and not forgotten his roots.

I recently had the opportunity to follow the New Jersey Net All-Star point guard behind the scenes at one of his free basketball camps for his “34 Ways to Assist Foundation” which teaches under-privileged kids in the Milwaukee and Madison areas not only fundamentals of the game, but also life lessons.

“We didn’t have much,” Harris told me of his childhood in an exclusive sit-down interview.  “We were kind of a lower-middle class family. My parents did a great job of making me understand that remember where I came from and always try to help people in need.”

nets-harris1And that is exactly what Harris is doing through his charity which benefits youth in Big Brothers Big Sisters, the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and other similar groups.

What I found most interesting about following Harris during a camp in Stoughton, Wisconsin, was his involvement in the drills and interaction with the kids.  “I’m here every day,” Harris told me.  “Some guys just show up to the camp for an hour and speak to the kids.  I like to get involved, play a little bit.  It’s easy to write a check sometimes and leave it at that, but I have a kick out of it.”

You could certainly tell he was getting a kick out of it; stepping in during 3-on-3 games, rebounding, passing, and dribbling drills, even challenging kids to a game of knock-out (or lightning as some people call it.)  He was constantly smiling, laughing, and joking around with the camp goers who intently followed his every word.

During a Q&A session with the kids, he was asked what his favorite kind of pancakes are, what is favorite song is, and who is better LeBron or Kobe.  (For the record, his answer was Kobe.)  He handed out autographed basketballs to selected kids who had reached certain achievements in the classroom, and gave away a signed pair of his new Adidas kicks.

“Kids especially, they want to be us, they see us in powerful positions so even if we don’t want to be role models, we’re still looked upon in that light.  Obviously to come back and do the things that I’m doing, means more to the kids than anybody.”

devin-layup1And in a time when the media is often looked at as the greater evil by pro athletes, Harris was very friendly with me (maybe because he knew I would be reporting on his interactions throughout the day.)  But there definitely was a genuineness to him that further proves he is one of the good guys who has not let his fame and fortune get to his head.

In Wednesday’s part two of my day with Devin, Harris talks about his new role as the focal point of the Nets offense, the Vince Carter trade, and the much-anticipated 2010 off-season in which New Jersey figures to be major players.

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Comments

  1. As a die hard Badger fan, there is no doubt that Devin Harris is my favority Badger bballer of all-time. He quickness and knack to score the ball made him a blast to watch during his three-year career at UW. Now, behind LeBron James, Harris is easily my second favorite NBA player. Thanks a lot for doing this piece David. Great job.

  2. Sorry for the typos. The box cuts me off.

  3. Peter Christian says

    So wait, Devin isn’t concerned with feeding his family? I’m surprised Latrell Sprewell isn’t trying to get some handout from another Wisconsinite… Good work though David.

  4. paulmbanks says

    yes, Dave this is one of the best pieces you’ve produced! Its nice to hear somebody who is down to earth and doesn’t forget where they came from. It reminds me of Jay Bilas and the foudnation he runs in Charlotte- they help a lot of under privledged children.

  5. paulmbanks says

    Looking forward to part 2 tomorrow

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