NBA all-star Carlos Boozer is coming back to Juneau next month to host a basketball camp and give back to the community that he says gave him so much.
"I went all the way from Juneau to where I am today," he said. "I'm a living testament that if you really do put your mind into basketball, or any other thing that you do, you can make it, cause I did. I want to be able to give back to the kids."
Before playing professionally, Boozer grew up in Juneau and helped Juneau-Douglas High School's Crimson Bears win two state championships. He also was a three-time state player of the year.
He's been unable to host the Juneau camp in recent years because of parental obligations - he has three young children - and because he played in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, where he added a gold medal to his accolades.
"Now that I have some time to do it, I wanted to get back to Juneau where I started at and I wanted to see if I can help some other kids that want to advance in basketball as well," he said.
The Carlos Boozer Basketball Camp will run from Aug. 3 to 7 at Juneau-Douglas High School. The camp is open to children ages seven to 17 and costs $150.
"We'll have a lot of fun and at the same time the kids will learn a lot about basketball," Boozer said. "So I'm really excited to be able to help out the kids in Juneau and the kids around Alaska that come up to the camp."
The camp focuses on basketball fundamentals and gives kids the opportunity to be coached, refereed and mentored by one of the NBA's elite players. The kids will spend mornings doing drills and learning techniques and will then play games in the afternoon to apply what they've learned, Boozer said.
"I'll be up there the entire time, being around teaching the kids, helping the kids, playing with the kids," Boozer said. "The kids can also watch me work out and see what I go through, what I put myself through to get ready for the NBA season."
A couple of surprise guests might also show up at the camp.
"A couple of my friends from the NBA may come to join me," he said. "It hasn't been confirmed yet, but they may come with me."
Camp proceeds will go to the Boozer's Buddies Foundation, which supports families affected by sickle cell disease and by creating grants to fund research and treatment. Boozer started the foundation after his son was diagnosed with the blood disorder.
Carmani Boozer, 3, was cured after a successful bone marrow transplant.
"My whole goal is to raise money for those families that can't afford the procedure, the medicines and some of the help that they need to help their kids with sickle cell," he said. "That's what my foundation is based around."
A bone marrow transplant alone can cost tens of thousands of dollars.
Boozer has been at home in Miami working hard for the upcoming NBA season, he said. He recently opted into the final year of his contract with the Utah Jazz and expects to play in Salt Lake City, unless he's traded.
Although he had one of his best seasons since being drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2002, he said the loss to the eventual champion L.A. Lakers in the first round of the playoffs still stings.
"It was the second time in a row that we had lost to them, so I'm really hungry and working my tail off right now to get back and get ready for next season to try and advance and get to a championship," he said.
Register for the camp at www.cbfcamp.com or call 1-800-725-6958 for more information.
Contact Eric Morrison at 523-2269 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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