Former Maryland basketball star Greivis Vasquez was among eight people named a “Champion of Change” today at the White House for his efforts as a sports diplomat in the United States and his native Venezuela.
Vasquez, 25, now with the NBA’s New Orleans Hornets, spoke during the event about his volunteer work with kids. He couldn’t resist plugging Maryland (“greatest four years in my life”) and noting that “we beat Duke” during his senior season.
Vasquez was honored for his attention to youth sports camps in Venezuela and for his work with the State Department to use sports to improve relations between the two nations.
Introduced by Assistant Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson, Vasquez said he conducts basketball clinics whenever possible and tries to “have direct contact with kids.” He said he wants youths to know they can be successful.
“One of the things I learned is that anything is possible in life,” Vasquez said. “I’m not the most talented player. There are guys that can jump higher. But I’m a hard worker.”
Other recipients at the event – which was streamed live by the White House -- included Elmer Arias, a Salvadoran-American whose soccer project helped connect Latino youths to their northern Virginia community; and Alvaro Maldonado, a dancer who is a survivor of El Salvador’s civil war.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times