Kendrick Perkins stopped by the Thunder's youth basketball summer camp Wednesday afternoon to help instruct more than 100 boys and girls at Mid-American Christian University.
Approximately 60 of the campers were from Plaza Towers, Briarwood Elementary or Highland East Junior High, the three Moore schools damaged or destroyed in the May 20 tornado. The Thunder offered free registration to each of its summer camps to all students from those schools, and more than 200 Moore students signed up to attend Thunder summer camps.
For Perkins, Wednesday's appearance was a part of an offseason he's dedicated to giving back to the community. Perkins and his wife, Vanity, partnered with a local business to accept donations the day after the May 20 tornado, and he has a celebrity golf tournament to benefit Moore tornado victims scheduled for July 3.
After his work with the kids, Perkins explained why giving back has become a priority and why he's treating this offseason like he's a rookie.
Q: This is your third year coming to summer camp. What's this experience like for you?
A: Well, anytime I can come out and I feel like I can brighten up a kid's day or their moment … you know, I always grew up in a community where I didn't have a chance for a professional athlete or any type of professional to come in and speak to me. And I know a lot of the kids look up to it. So I just try to come and encourage them to keep going, keep working hard, keep building and just come and try to brighten up their day.
This was the camp for the Moore students. How much does it mean to you to be able to be a part of this one in particular after that tragedy?
Well it means a lot. I was actually down here when the tornado hit and so I've been doing a lot of work myself in the community. I'm actually going down to Beaumont (Texas) and doing a fundraiser for the city of Moore. So I think it's key. I think it's a great thing that the kids get to come and relax and just get away from all that. I use basketball as my sanctuary. They can do the same thing. But it's good. You've got a nice supportive group here, people that really care. That's the most important thing.