By: Matthew Rodriguez
As the 2018 LA84 Foundation Summit came to a close, emcee Sal Masekela invited one final guest.
Olympic gold medalist and five-time NBA All-Star Paul George came to the stage to talk about how being outdoors, playing basketball, fishing and camping helped him grow as a person.
“I’m country at heart,” George said. “I love camping. I love fishing. I love being outdoors.”
With his love of the outdoors, George grew closer to his family, first talking about his sister and their relationship in basketball.
“I didn’t know much,” George said. “I knew I loved the game played. I didn’t know how far it was going to take me. But what helped was seeing my sister get to travel and go on to different places.”
George highlighted this as one of the reasons why he got into basketball and ultimately turning it into a career. He then used the platform he gained from the NBA to push issues near to his heart.
In 2015, George helped the American Stroke Association create different public service announcements to spread awareness of how to spot a stroke and how to help someone that is having one.
“I almost lost my mother when I was about six or seven,” he said. “My mom had a stroke and that was very tough for me.”
George said he was playing outside when he saw the ambulances arrive to his front door. They rushed his mother to the hospital. The doctors helped her as best as they could, bringing her back to life twice.
“You know my mom is one of my biggest supporters, one of the people I look up to most,” he said. “So it hit home for me to be able to do that give back and help other families again deal with it, made us as a family just feel much more connected [and] much more helpful to those families.”
Masekela also asked George about his love for fishing and how that helps him disengage from the outside world.
“I’m like disengaged from the world,” George said. “[I’m disengaged] from everything, haters, people, family. I’m on a date with the fish.”
George again used his platform he gained from basketball.
Earlier this year, he donated $4,200 to the Oklahoma Fishing in the Schools Program. The program worked to help get kids in Oklahoma fishing and helped many kids discover the joy of fishing.
“[The kids] wrote letters to me and our foundation on how much fishing meant to them and how much fun they had,” George said. “It was awesome. I got a chance to spend time with them out there fishing and just share a bond.”
George loves to help the community in Oklahoma with initiatives such as this, but when his career is over he said that he would love to come back to his hometown of Palmdale, California and help develop the city that raised him.
In August, he started his promise of giving by after he donated $25,000 to the city in order to help refurbish the basketball courts across the city.
“I want to open up centers for kids,” he said. “I want to be able to [build] something that kids can look forward to whether it’s after school programs or open up a gym where they can go in and do sports. That’s where my heart has been.”
George was a great end to the day of speakers who are using their platforms as athletes to make our society a better place for the kids and future generations to come.