The last time Oakland native Leon Powe put on the "Powe Folks" basketball camp, he was a second-round draft pick with an uncertain future. Powe is back in town to host the camp again this weekend, and he returns as an NBA champion.
Powe, the former Cal All-American, helped the Boston Celtics to the NBA title in June. He perhaps was the most valuable player of Boston's victory in Game 2 of the NBA Finals over the Los Angeles Lakers, a game in which ABC-TV ran a halftime feature about his troubled childhood.
"When I come back home, I can't even walk in the mall anymore," Powe said. "Everywhere I go, it's been crazy."
Powe scored 21 points in 15 minutes during the Celtics' 108-102 win over the Lakers in Game 2. Boston went on to win the series in six games, and Powe has been enjoying an offseason that has included a trip to the ESPYs, speaking to children about the importance of education and spending time with his 7-month old son, Leon Powe III.
"I've been a lot of places, speaking and going to a couple of events back in Boston. It's been fun," Powe said.
Education will be a major theme of this weekend's camp, which runs Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. at Merritt College. The camp is for ages 7-18, and the $25 registration fee covers both days.
Powe doesn't want the camp to only be about basketball. He realizes he wouldn't be in his position if he hadn't taken his studies seriously at Oakland Tech High School or Cal. Like last time, Powe plans on bringing in guest speakers to talk about the importance of education.
"I'm trying to help the young kids learn about basketball and learn about education, too," Powe said. "Whenever I go talk at a camp or something, that's always what I preach. You don't have to be a pro athlete. You should just work hard at whatever you do."
Powe said the importance of education has taken on an even greater meaning to him since the birth of his son. Powe's father left him when he was 2, and he wants to make sure he imparts the wisdom on his own son that he never received.
"I'm going to preach to my child that education comes first. That's how it has to be," he said. "If it weren't for education, I wouldn't be playing basketball right now. They have to go hand in hand."
This is the final year of Powe's contract, and he said he'd like to stay in Boston.
"They know me," he said. "The Boston organization knows I want to stay there."
To register for the camp, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and include name, phone, e-mail, age and skill level. Participants can also register at the door, beginning at 7:30 a.m. Friday.
Contact Jonathan Okanes at email@example.com.