One plays in the NBA and one plays in the NFL, but Draymond Green and LaMarr Woodley have one important thing in common: their hometown.
So it was only fitting that when Green won the NBA title in June with the Golden State Warriors, Woodley was amid the chaos and rowdy fans taking part in Green’s big moment.
“I wasn’t going to miss it,” Woodley said. “I couldn’t be prouder for all of the things he has accomplished.”
The two reunited days later to run summer camps for kids at Saginaw High. The first camp was Green’s basketball camp, where Woodley made appearances after his morning workouts.
Green’s camp lasted three days, while Woodley’s camp was held on a Saturday morning. Overall, nearly 800 youths took part in the week-long festivities that ended with a parade and a rally honoring Green and the Warriors’ championship.
“This is truly an honor,” Green said. “I couldn’t be more proud seeing everyone come out and supporting me. I’m extremely blessed.”
Woodley said he has always loved the opportunity to give back to the community. “The kids definitely know who we are,” he said. “The kids just also see us in the community … so we’re not just strangers on TV that are from the same city or area that they’re from but actually come back and they can actually see and touch and talk to.”
For the two pro athletes, many of their efforts are about continuing a circle of giving back to young athletes. Woodley said when he was a kid, a player from the Oakland Raiders ran a camp at the local high school. “It was just great, it was something that we still talk about to this day, about how great that experience was,” he said. “Out of that football camp, there’s probably seven or eight guys out of that whole camp went to the NFL.”
Over the years, while both men were enduring the rigors of professional sports, their friendship remained constant, so when Woodley had an idea for an AAU program, Green was on board immediately. The two formed a basketball program, whose aim is to give local kids an opportunity to play the sport at low or no cost and also focus on their education.
Woodley said, “I played AAU basketball growing up and so did Draymond, and we understand what was missing.”
Green said, “Saginaw has made me who I am; it’s taught me everything I know, so to come back and give back to these kids who, not long ago, I was in their shoes.”
So the GreenWood Elite AAU Basketball program was born, and the impact was felt instantly. The biggest difference about GreenWood Elite is at its core. While most AAU programs are designed simply to get kids into the NBA, the goal of Greenwood is helping kids both on and off the court.
“The things that were missing were the things that we needed to get to that next level. The education piece, we play basketball, but you need education to get to college. You don’t need education to get to the pros, but you got to be educated when you get to the pros, because now you’re dealing with a different kind of money. So if you’re not educated about that, you lose that money,” Woodley said.
This is GreenWood Elite’s inaugural year, but it’s already impacting lives.
According to a press release, the new program will be free to all participants.
The program will have under-15, under-16, and under-17 elite teams and under-10, under-12, under-13, and under-14 regular teams. The elite teams debuted at the Super 16 Nike Showcase in May.
Participants “will be armed with educational and basketball skills to instill a foundation of academic, decision-making, planning, responsibility, reliability and perseverance abilities that will contribute to their potential as they mature into young men,” according to a GreenWood Elite announcement.