Hosting back-to-school event, Nick Young gives sneakers off his feet

Nick Young shoots around with children at a back-to-school event he hosted at Robertson Park.
(Eric Pincus / Los Angeles Times)

Lakers guard/forward Nick Young went home Wednesday, hosting his third annual back-to-school giveaway at Robertson Park.

“This is where it all started from, right here at Robertson Park,” Young said. “It’s where I grew up playing. I have history here. This is my neighborhood.”

The six-year NBA veteran donated school supplies and barbecue to a park full of children.


He even hit the court for multiple sets of two-on-two against eager kids and teenagers. Young partnered up with his personal assistant Adrian (last name unclear, but familiarly called “Big Meat”).

“Thanks for dunking on me,” yelled out one of the kids.

“It’s a dream come true,” said 18-year old K.C., whose team gave Young and Big Meat a reasonable challenge. “It’s Nick Young. I grew up watching him through the USC days, the Clippers, the [Philadelphia] 76ers, [and Washington] Wizards. I just grew up watching him play.”

After the games, Young raffled off memorabilia, laptops and iPads. Brandon Jennings of the Detroit Pistons wasn’t present, but donated a pair of signed sneakers.

When all the items were all given out, Young took it a step further -- peeling off his Nike Jordans. An 8-year old boy left with the signed pair.

L.A. Councilman Paul Koretz was also on hand to welcome Young back to Robertson Park.

“Nick Young is a great guy. I’m glad that he’s in L.A. [with the Lakers],” said Koretz. “He’s a real mensch. He may not have even have heard the word before, but he is one.”

Mensch is a Yiddish word for a person of integrity.

NBA players Dorell Wright of the Portland Trail Blazers and Jordan Crawford of the Boston Celtics both stopped by in support.

“I’m happy for my boy giving back to the community,” said Wright. “That’s what it’s all about, besides basketball, is giving back.”

Young is excited about his first season with the Lakers, after signing a two-year deal in July (second season is a player option).

“I grew up a Laker fan,” said Young. “Kobe [Bryant], Shaq [O’Neal], Nick Van Exel, Eddie Jones -- now I’m playing in that purple and gold.”

He looks forward to playing with Bryant -- “It’s going to be war sometimes in practice.”

Young talked about getting his passport in order for the Lakers’ preseason trip to China and watching Bryant on the treadmill daily, rehabbing his Achilles’ tendon at the team’s practice facility.

Young is an off-season regular at the Lakers’ gym, battling player development coach Mark Madsen in practice.

“He was trying to kill me today,” said Young on Madsen. “It was fun though -- I’m just going over the plays and putting shots up, trying to get my conditioning right.”

After the games were played, food was eaten and prizes were given out, Young glanced around the park where he learned how to play basketball as a child.

“I’ve got some shoes in the car,” he said with his usual laid-back demeanor. “They took it all, man. They took it all.”


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Email Eric Pincus at and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.