John Wall did double duty on Saturday, first by holding a back-to-school giveaway at the Barry Farm recreation center in the morning, then by attending teammate Markieff Morris' own charity event in the afternoon just a few miles away in Southeast Washington.
Wall spent hours interacting with young kids, giving them school supplies and taking pictures at his event. At Morris' backpack giveaway, he and members of his family were there for support. It was an unannounced surprise and as word spread around the gymnasium at Ridge Road recreation center, kids yelled with glee and ran in his direction to ask for autographs and pictures.
Wall, 27, has been giving back through charitable efforts for years and helping kids with school supplies is something that hits home for him.
"I remember sometimes I would go to the first day of school and I didn't have half of the stuff [I needed]," Wall said. "I just try to make it easier for the parents to not have to sacrifice and get all those things done."
Wall gave out Adidas backpacks with notebooks and pencils inside, the essentials for kids of all ages to be set up for success this fall. He grew up in poverty in Raleigh, NC and knows the smallest bits of help can make a difference.
"Coming from where I come from, you had to go get it on your own. There wasn't nobody really giving you anything or making it easier for you. I saw my mom sacrifice, working three or four jobs, sometimes not paying the light bill for me to play in a basketball tournament," he said.
Wall and Morris' events came at an interesting time for charity efforts by professional athletes. It was just days before that LeBron James opened a public school in Akron, OH and made national headlines for doing so.
Wall does charity events like Saturday's in Washington, D.C. and in his hometown. Three years ago, he gave a $400,000 donation to Bright Beginnings, a homeless center in Washington.
Wall has done plenty and said he plans on continuing his charitable efforts long after he retires from basketball. He sees James as a role model and James' latest venture as something to strive for.
"That's the greatest thing ever. I think LeBron has reached the highest level you can reach on it. To start a school, that's unheard of. That's everything that you dream of," Wall said.
"You can't think of nothing else but trying to get to that [point]. Not everybody has the opportunity to get to that platform and what he's done, but all he did is raise the bar and showed people the different things you can add to what you do for the community and to what you do in giving back."
Wall noted how James has mentored him ever since he was a sophomore in high school. James has set the standard both on and off the court and opening a school has Wall dreaming even bigger in the ways he can give back to his own communities.
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