William "Smush" Parker
Former Los Angeles Laker & Present Philanthropist Holds Free Basketball Clinics Nationwide
William “Smush” Parker – probably best known to the average fan for his 2005-2008 stint on the Kobe Bryant-led Lakers – also spent time on the Cavaliers, the Pistons, the Heat, the Suns, and the Clippers, making him one well-traveled NBA professional.
So, it’s not all that surprising to find the retired pro recently traveled to Kingston to teach a free clinic and offer up life and basketball advice to local youth at the Boys and Girls Club there.
"My goal is not just to focus here in Kingston," said the 37-year-old Brooklyn native who polished his moves as a teenager on the court at West 4thStreet in Greenwich Village. "But it’s to focus on the kids that sometimes get overlooked, or don’t have the means to make it to an Allen Iverson or Stephen Curry basketball clinic."
Proving his point, Smush has gotten clinical all over the country, espousing his gospel of common decency, respect and hard work to the open ears of children in cities like Houston, Atlanta, Fort Lauderdale, Los Angeles and New York.
“As a child, I wished an NBA player walked into my gym,” he recalled, “who was able to connect with me and talk to me about some of the trials and tribulations and the hard work that they put in to get to fulfill their dreams. I remember that feeling. I want to bridge that gap.”
“I feel it’s great,” said 14-year-old Juszaye, who attended both days’ free clinics and sees Parker’s philanthropy as a template for a more compassionate future. “When I get older and I go into the NBA, I would do the same as Smush did, and go all over the country and help people.”
“I feel inspired and excited,” beamed 11-year-old Nzyah as she swaddled a football. “It was fun. And it was exercising.”
Exactly what Smush wants: “Coming in to the inner-city communities, coming in to the Boys & Girls Clubs, coming in to the recreational centers; just walk in to a gym and surprise a kid, maybe inspire them.
“Dreams really do come true – my dream came true. And I want to inspire that in the youth of today.”