Jonathan Bender Foundation sponsors youth basketball camp

Published 4:15 pm Friday, June 8, 2007

More than 100 youths, ranging in age from nine to 17, participated in a free youth basketball camp held at Picayune Memorial High School gymnasium on Thursday. The event was sponsored by the Jonathan Bender Foundation.

The camp consisted of two sessions. The first session was for ages nine through 13 and was held Thursday morning. The afternoon session was for ages 14-17.

The youths participated in drills and practiced basketball fundamentals with assistance from PMHS boys’ basketball coach Daniel Kennedy and several PMHS varsity basketball players.

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Jonathan Bender was at the camp and ended each session by speaking to the youths about what makes one successful. He emphasized working hard, making good grades and learning life’s lessons.

Bender graduated from PMHS in 1999 at age 17 and was drafted by National Basketball Association in the first round that same year. He played in the NBA with the Indiana Pacers until 2006, when he retired.

According to a brochure provided by the Foundation president Mattie J. Hobley, “The Jonathan Bender Foundation challenges individuals and businesses to support children by providing them with the life skills necessary to be productive individuals in our society.”

“(The Foundation’s) mission is to empower children by giving them the tools they need to succeed. We want to address the whole child,” said Hobley. “It was important to start in Picayune because it’s Jonathan’s home town.”

This was the first year for the basketball camp, and Kennedy says he hopes the Foundation will make it an annual event.