Players across the NBA host camps for children of all ages throughout the offseason. While some charge top-dollar for the chance to work with a pro, other NBA players make their camps free for all kids who attend. Enes Kanter is the latest player to spearhead a free camp for kids, but he did so across the country.
Enes Kanter’s free camps
Kanter brought his free camp to 25 states after ending his tenure in Portland. In all, the goal of his camps involved not only teaching basketball but also teaching kids about the value of hard work. Kanter’s plan was to offer 50 free camps across the country.
He not only hosted camps in places where many players do so — New York, Los Angeles, Miami — but Kanter wanted to host in areas that may not get chances like this. As a Turkish immigrant, he sees the U.S. as a place of opportunity that has been good to him.
“We wanted to go to places the NBA has never stepped on before,” he told Boston.com. “America gave me so much. America gave me a home. I wanted to give back to not just the city I play for, I wanted to give back to all of America.”
In the past, players have been criticized for charging far too much for their camps, but Kanter sees it as an opportunity for the kids. The millionaire doesn’t want parents to have to open up their wallets to make the camps a reality. “I don’t want and I don’t need their money,” he said. “I just want them to come and have fun. To put a smile on their faces, that’s what we try to do.”
Growing up in Turkey, Kanter experienced the country’s strict authoritarian rule. His rise to the NBA has given him a platform to speak out against Turkish rule, making him a target of the government. Fearing for his safety, Kanter opts not to leave the country when his teams have played overseas, fearing that the Turkish government may try something.
With this perspective, we understand why Kanter would want to give kids a positive environment where all they have to worry about is having fun. Not only does he hold the free basketball camps, but he makes sure the kids are fed and have everything they need to get the most out of the camp, even if it means paying for things himself.
Kanter fears for the safety of both himself and his family, whom he’s claimed could be punished for his dissent.
Bigger than basketball
Every basketball player’s story is different. Some came from affluent households. Kanter, however, has always tried to use his fame and status to spread positive messages and awareness on many issues.
Not only has he hosted free camps, but he’s hosted so many that it’s truly special. Kanter wants to do more in the future, so more kids get the opportunity to work with him without having to worry about money.