Los Angeles Clippers guard Russell Westbrook speaking at the Russell Westbrook Community Court unveiling. Photo taken De’Angelo Scruggs
Los Angeles, CA- On Thursday, Russell Westbrook, the Los Angeles Native and esteemed Clippers guard, graced a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Jesse Owens Park in South LA’s Gramercy Park neighborhood. The ceremony marked the celebration of the renovations of an additional 117 Clippers Community Courts in LA County. The park and court that the future Hall of Famer once called home is now officially named the Russell Westbrook Community Court.
Earlier that day, Westbrook, alongside members of his Why Not? Foundation, orchestrated the 12th annual Thanksgiving Food Distribution event. The foundation distributed 1,000 meals to families in need, exemplifying Westbrook’s commitment to aiding his old stomping grounds.
The team’s partnership with Parks and Recreation to revitalize both indoor and outdoor basketball courts commenced five years ago when the Clippers Foundation generously contributed $10 million to the LA Parks Foundation.
Initially reaching their goal of refurbishing 350 courts by the summer of 2022, the organization decided that wasn’t enough. The city’s Parks and Recreation announced plans to introduce 117 new basketball courts at 60 different locations by spring 2025.
This will elevate the overall count to nearly 500 community courts across Southern California, that are either fully completed or currently undergoing revitalization for public use.
LA County supervisor Holly Mitchell spoke on the impact that the program will have on future generations to come. “The Community Courts Program will provide healthy and positive outlets for after-school activities and contribute to the wellness of LA County’s Second District communities, from Carson to Compton, to Baldwin Hills.”
Westbrook spoke to the press and the Jr. Clippers about how much this means to him and how dear this park is to him. “I used to come into this gym with my football gear on and play with my cleats on the basketball court … then go back on the football field. Played basketball at this park, and went to the pool at this park. This park is my home. Everybody that’s from around here understands how important it is to me.”
Westbrook thanked his family and the Clippers for their help and the opportunity to answer what he feels is his true calling. “The reason why my foundation does things like this is because, while I’ve been blessed with the opportunity and platform to play basketball, I don’t believe that’s my calling at all. I believe it’s for me to use what I have to be able to impact and inspire other people,” Westbrook said
Westbrook has become a local source of inspiration for many in the community and around the world through his story of resilience and hard work. He wasn’t a prized recruit coming out of Leuzinger High School in Hawthorne but through perseverance and guidance from his family, he was able to obtain a scholarship to UCLA and is now a 16-year veteran.
Westbrook spoke about what it means to have his name on the court “Just to have my name in the middle, I hope it inspires and allows you guys — especially our kids and youth — to do great things in life.
All photos were taken by De’Angelo Scruggs