During his rookie season with the Boston Celtics, Avery Bradley made a pledge to his family that he’d give back to every community that he touched.
Now heading into his seventh pro season, the NBA all-defensive first-team selection and former Bellarmine Prep standout will host the Avery Bradley Skills Academy Monday through Wednesday at Foss High School.
“It’s important, and it was for the guys who are helping out as well, to give back to all these communities and to help these kids learn the game of basketball,” Bradley said. “(Tacoma, Boston and Austin, Texas) supported me throughout my entire journey.”
Offseason rest was not something Bradley took advantage of during his early years in the league. As an NBA veteran who is married with kids now, Bradley took a month off to rest his body and spend time with his family.
And take his three-day basketball camp to four cities.
He made stops in Boston, Austin (where he played college basketball at the University of Texas) and travels to St. George’s, Grenada, for a camp at the end of July.
Unlike his camps of years past, this one focuses on defense, ball-handling and player development skills. It is open to grades 1-12 with a $150 registration fee.
“We want the kids to have fun, but I feel like they can have fun working on their game, competing against one another,” Bradley said. “All the coaches that help out with the camp, we all have basketball experience. We feel like we’ve been blessed to be where we are, and it’s our duty to give back to our community and help kids with all the knowledge that we were able to gain everywhere we stopped. Now we can share those things with the kids at the camp.”
A key inspiration for Bradley is to give kids an opportunity to learn from an NBA player, which is something he never experienced. But as a 19-year-old rookie drafted onto the same roster as Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Shaquille O’Neal, the experiences draw similarities.
In the spirit of motivation, the now-25-year-old borrows a storied tagline from his former teammate, Garnett.
“Anything is possible if you continue to grow with your game,” said Bradley, who averaged 15.2 points per game last season.
“I just want all the kids in Tacoma to have a chance,” Bradley said. “The kids that don’t think they can do anything but live in Tacoma, give them a different way of thinking, a different mindset.”
Helping facilitate the camps with Bradley are his friends: Lavelt Page, Curtis High School and Bellarmine Prep alum Darnell Williams, Bradley’s older brother Tim Mack. and former UT teammate Justin Mason.
Though his supporting cast is strong in numbers, Bradley said he makes an effort to be in attendance throughout his camp, which he feels differentiates him from others of the kind.
“I’m usually there the majority of the camp,” Bradley said. “I know they want to ask me questions (and) I want to help them, so I try to be hands-on with the kids. I just love it. Especially coming back home to Tacoma, my home where I grew up playing basketball, it’s going to be exciting for kids to know that I was them once.”