The camp hadn’t officially begun on Tuesday morning but already the Juneau-Douglas High School gym was roaring.
But the relentless drumming of basketballs from 150 youth crowding the court seemed to have no effect on Carlos Boozer, who stood off to the side and calmly greeted whoever approached him.
The former NBA power forward returned to his hometown this week for the second annual Carlos Boozer Basketball Camp. The clinic, which goes through Friday, attracted approximately 170 campers between the ages of 5 and 18, some of whom got first look at a professional basketball player on Monday morning. Three-time NBA dunk champion Nate Robinson also made the trip. NBA trainer Doug Plumb and over a dozen high school coaches and alumni are also helping out.
Boozer said his basketball journey — which included an NCAA championship, two Olympic medals and two appearances on the NBA all-star team — was far from a solo endeavor and one of the reasons he’s giving back.
“Sometimes it takes a village and for me, it took a village,” Boozer said Tuesday morning at camp. “I had great parents, I had great sisters who would babysit my younger siblings so my mom and my dad could take me to basketball camps. It took a village.”
Boozer’s mom, Renee, was on hand Tuesday morning. Renee, who raised Boozer and four other children in Juneau between 1988 and 2000, is proud of the work her son is doing.
“We always talked about having a family and teaching the kids the truth,” Renee, 63, said. “Teaching them to grow up to be good citizens and you always give back. You don’t want to be mean to people, you always want to be helpful and I think raising him like that plus he was one of five children, so he had to learn to share.”
Some kids, in awe of who’s sharing the court with them, couldn’t wait to share their experience at the dinner table.
Levi Traxler attended the camp last year and convinced his older sister, Riley, to come this year.
“It’s kind of funny because Carlos is super tall and my little brother grew like four inches this past year and so he’s like, ‘I’m going to be just like Carlos!’” Riley, 13, said.
Aedon Dumag, 17, felt lucky to be at a basketball camp, let alone one teeming with NBA talent. Dumag plays for Sitka High School in the winter but doesn’t get much time on the hardwood this time of year. Instead, he’s in a seafood processing plant, sometimes 85 hours a week. But when Dumag’s aunt won a free camp ticket, he knew it was an opportunity he couldn’t pass up.
Dumag, who stands about 5-feet-9 inches, said it was a surreal experience to meet an ex-NBA player like Robinson who was no taller than he was.
“One of the coaches, I forgot his name, his goal was not to get dunked on to Nate Robinson during this camp,” Dumag said. “So I kind of hope he fails in that goal just because I want to see Nate dunk on him. It’d be really cool.”
• Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Empire Sports on Twitter at @akempiresports.