On Sunday, August 18, New York Knicks point guard Raymond Felton hosted a free basketball clinic for a group of more then 50 local children and their mentors in the Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York City mentoring programs. He was kicking off his new position of Ambassador Big for the organization. The charity event was held at the Taffner Fieldhouse at St. John’s University in Queens, New York, where the “Bigs” and “Littles” had an opportunity to learn the ins-and-outs of basketball from the Knicks point guard.
Felton, who was once a “Big Brother” himself in Charlotte, North Carolina, and his trainer led practice drills and activities on basketball fundamentals including dribbling, passing, and shooting. Showing an immense amount of leadership and guidance to these children, Felton is no stranger to giving back to the community. Not only has Felton supported the BBBS of NYC, he recently launched his 8th annual Felton Basketball Camp in South Carolina, where he recently had his largest turnout yet.
Chris DiGioia of Back Sports Page and Turn On The Knicks recently spoke with Felton about his new role at St. Johns University, to discuss his role in giving back and his current role with the Knicks.
Back Sports Page: Before I get into the BBBS of NYC, I wanted to ask, how are you feeling coming off this past season? Any lingering injuries or issues?
Raymond Felton: No, I feel great. 100 percent healthy.
BSP: What kind of responsibilities are you taking on in your new role as Ambassador Big?
RF: This is something I’ve done before, over in Charlotte. This organization is dear to my heart, as far knowing if you can help a kid, one kid, it’s enough, but if you can help millions, it’s a beautiful thing. My biggest thing is to try and get more kids, more athletes involved, because it’s a good cause. Spending a little bit of time, having a conversation on the phone, email, whatever it takes to make that kid’s day, to help that kid to be better in life. That’s what it’s all about.
BSP: You recently just launched your 8th annual Felton Basketball Camp in South Carolina, how did everything go?
RF: Great, it went great. Biggest turnout that I’ve had since I started. I think there was about 130, 140 kids in one gym. So you know, it was crazy. We got through it, got a chance to touch numerous kids lives, and it was a great time.
BSP: What kind of message are you trying to send to these kids, and how do you approach motivating them?
RF: My biggest thing is to tell kids to never give up in life. Most of these kids have gone through a lot of tough things, at home, or just in life, and I tell them just never give up. No matter what the situation is, if you have somebody you can talk to, that will always drive you to be better, be the best you can be. My biggest thing is to make these kids dream high, dream high and go for it. That’s what I did as a kid, I would dream high and just go for it.
BSP: Have you done anything different this off-season to help you prepare for next year? Whether it’s working on shooting, staying in shape, etc.
RF: I’m working on everything right now. I lost a lot of weight, just grinding, just really getting at it. Just getting at it. That’s really the biggest thing, trying to make everything in my game consistent. My trainer has been killing me everyday, but it’s fun. It’s my job, I get up and for three, four hours of the day, I’m on the court. You know, the rest of the day you can just chill, relax.
BSP: What has been the hardest obstacle you’ve had to overcome since joining the New York Knicks?
RF: Nothing has really been hard, I love it here. I wanted to be here, and I didn’t have any issues this year. Fans were great, you know, the post-season didn’t go the way we were hoping, but as far as having a good year, and the team having a good year, it was great. Incredible year.
BSP: With the Knicks using a first round pick on Tim Hardaway Jr., another backcourt player, do you feel the need to help with his transition from college? When you came into the league, who was that player for you?
RF: Brevin Knight was that player for me. I came into Charlotte, where he was the point guard at the time, he took me under his wing. He taught me a lot of things, but I had other guys too. Derek Anderson was in Charlotte at the time, Juwan Howard, a lot of older guys who taught me the ropes. That’s why I want to give that to him (Hardaway Jr.). Even though he had his dad his whole life, I’m going to be someone he will see everyday, be with on the court, I’ll try to be that guy for him.
BSP: Pablo Prigioni has been resigned with the team, but with the addition of Beno Udrih, and the departure of Hall-of-Famer Jason Kidd, what can Knicks fans expect out of the backcourt this year?
RF: Same thing. Work hard, play hard. Do our job. We are going to come out and try to help our team win games.
BSP: Finally, what has been the greatest moment of your basketball career?
RF: I can’t really nail it down to one, I have so many man. I won my first state championship in high school, and that was a special moment. Signing my letter of intent to go to the University of North Carolina was a special moment. Winning the National Championship, getting drafted in to the NBA, all very special moments. There is so many things, I couldn’t narrow it to one. I’ve been a blessed person my entire life, that’s all I can say. I thank God for that.
Many athletes don’t understand the impact they can make on a children’s life, but Felton certainly does. I want to thank Felton for giving me time out of his busy schedule to answer some questions, and the BBBS of NYC for letting me attend. Here’s what this organization is all about:
The Big Brothers Big Sisters of NYC (BBBS of NYC), is actually the nation’s first and NYC’s largest youth mentoring organization, and it has served the changing needs of NYC’s most at-risk youth since 1904. The organization is entirely volunteer and donor-based, and offers an array of particular guidance programs with the goal of helping children face complicated challenges.
This not-for-profit agency has helped change the lives of children for decades, and you can be a part of that. To learn more, become a mentor, or offer any type of support, please visit www.bigsnyc.org.
Interview courtesy of Back Sports Page, where you can check the interview too: http://backsportspage.com/index.php/features/beyond-the-athlete/item/new-york-knicks-point-guard-raymond-felton-speaks-about-giving-back