Aug 27, 2012
John Wall is one of the biggest names in basketball in North Carolina.
Wall played high school basketball in Raleigh before going on to play one season of college basketball at the University of Kentucky. In 2010, Wall was the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft and has played for the Washington Wizards since.
On Monday, Wall joined Reebok at Hunter Elementary School in Raleigh – minutes from where Wall grew up – to help initiate the BOKS Before School Program, a program that gets kids moving before class to help them learn better during the day.
"It's just great to give back to this area because it's where I'm at," Wall said. "I used to play at the little basketball court right down there."
BOKS, a program developed by Reebok, which endorses Wall, aims to get kids physically active before school in hopes it will allow them to focus better and learn more during school.
Wall said he didn't always value the importance of school, but that he learned while he was in high school.
"I wish I knew when I was in ninth and tenth grade how important it was," he said.
The Reebok program is only one way Wall is giving back though. In the near future, Wall plans to start his own charitable foundation. He said he is working to narrow the focus of his future foundation, but noted he has had family members suffer from cancer and aneurysms and the foundation could benefit either of the two illnesses.
Giving back to his hometown is something he feels is very important though.
"I just think they gave me a lot of support. Growing up I was a kid with a bad attitude but always good in basketball," Wall said. "[The community] always supported me. They supported me when I left and went to college in Kentucky... And every time I come back home and play in the Pro-Am or I'm just around I get a lot of excitement, a lot of fans are here so it's great to give back."
Wall is also focused on giving back to people who are closest to him. After becoming an NBA star, Wall bought a house in Raleigh for his mother.
"Words can't really explain what that meant to me," said Wall. "Seeing her work three or four jobs and her taking me to school and picking me up... She made sure I was there for every basketball tournament. She made sure I was there for every practice."
"It's just great to give her that type of feeling where she can just sit back and relax and enjoy her life," he said.
Wall became a local basketball icon in high school, and his legacy still lingers in the world of high school basketball. Wall takes that seriously, and he sees himself as an ambassador to area youth players.
"I'm always watching. I'm still looking at the high school kids like I"m playing against them," he said. "I'm just trying to be the head guy that lead the way for them and just hope they follow my footsteps, but do it in their own way."
At 21, Wall still has plenty of playing years left in the NBA. When his career as a basketball player does come to an end though, Wall plans to have a college degree in hand. He promised his late father that he would go to college and earn a college degree.
"Nobody in my family really had the opportunity to go to college," said Wall. "I want to be a person in my family to get a degree."
Wall said he plans to take some online classes, but he wants to finish his degree on campus at Kentucky – possibly in business.