By: Anthony Sain ( @ SainAsylum )
Memphis Grizzlies star power forward and fan-favorite Zach Randolph, set the bar for giving this holiday season as he donated and distributed 500 baskets to students and their families at Booker T. Washington High School on Thursday. Each basket contained a turkey, stuffing and other Thanksgiving trimmings and was handed out to students immediately after school. Overwhelming charity and generosity have become mainstays of Randolph’s; as he has become known for various acts of kindness including paying off utility bills, free basketball camps and ticket giveaways.
Not only did Randolph flip the bill for the event, he handed out each basket to each student and stopped to talk to students, giving them sincere words of encouragement. Randolph also gave members of the BTW Basketball Team some advice about playing “team ball.” These events are far from being a publicity stunt for Randolph, as he not only is passionate about helping those in need, but also can relate to the common struggle that he faced growing up in a single parent home.
“This is what it’s all about,” said Randolph. “It’s not for any cameras or filming, it’s for the kids and for the families. It’s giving them a meal and making their Thanksgiving Day come true and making them happy.”
“I can relate to it,” added Randolph. “That’s another reason why I do it is because I can relate to it. I was one of the kids getting baskets for my mother at the Salvation Army or the Christmas (Angel) Tree, so those are the kinds of things that I can relate to.”
Randolph was asked about a young man that said that he was going to turnaround and give his basket to a homeless man that he sees on his walk home – a story that pleased the Grizzlies gentle giant.
“That’s what its all about,” said Randolph. “It’s about giving. It’s not always about receiving it’s about giving. Just hearing the kids say that, its makes you smile and that’s a blessing. It’s a blessing for me to give back, to be here with these kids and be able to do this.”
“Other people in my position need to do this also, because this is what it’s all about. These kids are our future. Them doing the right thing and going to school – making something out of themselves. This is very important.”
Randolph did more than just show up for a photo opportunity and interview, as was stated earlier he was hands-on with the students receiving donations. This was something that he elaborated on.
“It does a lot for a kid to ask them how their day was today or how was school, how are your grades doing, are you staying out of trouble, are you doing the right thing. Those things are important and for the kids to take pictures and (for me) to just be there and to show them that you are not just here to have people pass out the baskets but that you are actual there in person shaking their hand and telling them to keep doing a good job in school or whatever they are trying to do.”
When asked did Randolph himself experience NBA players that he looked up to coming and doing things like he does in the community
No. I wish I could say that. There wasn’t anyone really coming to my neighborhood – no professional athletes were doing this. I wish I could have seen someone like Reggie Miller or somebody come into my neighborhood!” Randolph said with the smile that all Grizzlies fans have grown to love.
Booker T. Washington assistant principal John Bush spoke highly of Randolph’s actions and understood the total effect that having an event like this at his school.
"I think it's great for the community, the student body, and I think what Zach is doing is tremendous,” said Bush. “I feel like people look forward to this every year. Zach provides hope. Many families wouldn't have had a thanksgiving meal, and Zach is providing that"