Rodney Rogers hasn’t let a serious dirt bike accident in 2008, which caused paralysis from the fall, stop him from being active in the community and mentoring youth at basketball events.
The former NBA Sixth Man Award winner started his own foundation to raise money for surgery and equipment for others with spinal-cord injuries. And for the past several years, he’s attended the whole week of the Top 100 Camp, speaking to the teenagers, sitting courtside to watch the games and providing advice afterwards to the rising stars.
For the impressive commitment that he’s made to living life to the fullest and contributing to the Top 100 Camp, the event announced the first-ever Rodney Rogers Courage Award. It will be given to a camper on Saturday, two days before Rogers’ 45th birthday.
“Often times in life we encounter difficult times, and the true measure of a man is how you deal with those difficult times and how you continue to move forward,” Purvis Short, the NBPA’s director of player programs, told the campers before introducing Rogers. “None of us have had a situation as difficult as what Rodney’s been going through. He’s never wavered, his courage has always been outstanding. He’s really been a true example of what it means to face life’s most difficult challenge, and continue to try to move forward and to give back.”
Rogers spoke to the teenagers on the court in the middle of John Paul Jones Arena, stressing the importance of the Top 100 Camp and all of its resources.
“I went to smaller camps, but nothing as big as this,” he said. “So take advantage of what you have in front of you. I’m watching you guys and critiquing you guys. If you want my help with anything, I’m sitting over here on the sidelines.”
The campers have gained more life lessons this week from other key speakers. On Thursday, they heard how to best utilize social media from Steve Shenbaum, a former actor who now runs Game on Nation, which specializes in communication, leadership, team building and media training. In addition, Glenn Terry and Elizabeth Ramsey from the NCAA went over recruiting, eligibility and rules to follow, and motivational speaker Tony Gaskins discussed relationship advice.
There was a much more serious tone on Friday when the campers heard from Reggie Shaw, a former youth basketball player who killed two men texting while driving 10 years ago. Shaw is now a highly sought-after motivational speaker across the country.
“The texting and driving, that was really eye-opening on how choices can make a big difference in life,” said Sam Waardenburg, who’s a top prospect from New Zealand.
Below is a photo look inside Day 3 and 4 of the Top 100 Camp, highlighting the camper, coaching, broadcaster and parent programs.
Photo credits: Davide De Pas and Ralph Raphael (photo editor is Katelyn Greer)