Al Horford is all about community involvement.
That’s why the 76ers power forward spent time at Thomas Edison High School in Hunting Park following Wednesday’s practice in Camden.
Partnering with the Built With Chocolate Milk campaign, Horford provided a basketball clinic for a group of 30 middle school and high schoolers that ended with a question-and-answer session. This was part of the Dominican Republic native’s commitment to give back and get Latino youth involved in basketball.
The participants were a mix of Edison students and the youth from the El Concilio after-school program, which partners with the high school. El Concilio, a non-profit group, is the oldest Latino organization in Philadelphia.
Giving back to the youth during this clinic was special “just from the standpoint to maybe let them know that I care,” Horford said, “that I want to be apart it. That I want them to be proud of me.
“And also for them to feel apart of what we got going for the 76ers. That’s important to me.”
Being a positive role model is equally important to the 13th-year veteran.
Horford, 33, has been involved in many outreach programs, including reading and anti-bullying ones. He’s been involved with Basketball Without Borders, the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the NBA’s fight against AIDS, WildAid, and local charities in the Dominican Republic.
“My whole thing has always been try to make an impact and a difference, especially with this younger generation,” Horford said. “So anything I can to help whether it’s in the Dominican, wherever I’ve been, that’s the one thing I really try to cement.”
The longer he has been in the league, the more he has realized that players are needed to be voices and in their communities. So the five-time All-Star is determined to make a difference.
He definitely made an impression on the excited and attentive youth on hand Wednesday evening.
“We were definitely shocked for someone like him to come to our school and surprise the kids here,” said Barbara Dussinger, a senior multi-sport athlete at Edison. “For him to come out and show his support ... meant everything to us.”
The young lady is a defensive tackle on Edison’s football team. She is also a remember of the girls volleyball, softball, and basketball teams.
At the conclusion of the clinic, Horford presented Dussinger, who is African-American and white, with the Al Horford Award. The award is presented to the student-athlete who best exemplifies sportsmanship, hard work, dedication, respect, and commitment to the community.
“It means everything,” Dessinger said of Horford holding the clinic.
It also meant a lot for Latino players to meet a Latino NBA player. It lets them know they, too, could follow their basketball dreams with hard work.
“That’s why it was important for us to bring him to this school, because it is predominately hispanic,” said Adonis Banegas, executive director of Concilio. "The student body is mostly made up of Latinos.
“For them to see him, who is from the Dominican Republic, and some of the kids playing are from the Dominican Republic, it’s a full circle.”