Prison Fellowship is hosting their Angel Tree sports camp for kids with parents incarcerated in Oklahoma.
Over 100 kids took their first steps Saturday at Chesapeake Energy Arena. As soon as the kids walked into the arena, they were given new kicks to play in provided by Prison Fellowship and Thunder forward Darius Bazley.
“Remember: Each of you are important, special and created by God himself,” Bazley said.
The Thunder Youth basketball coaches taught the kids a few drills. Michelle Matthews with the Oklahoma City Thunder said she hopes the kids are able to find joy in this experience despite their parents not being able to share it with them.
“It can be overwhelming when you come in here with excitement, anticipation, but ultimately, we're just hoping to find a little bit of joy today,” Matthews said. “A little bit of excitement. They find themselves, have a blast and walk out of here with their heads held a little bit higher.”
Many of these children have parents who are behind bars. International slam dunk champion Kenny Dobbs told the kids that shouldn't stop them from being whatever they want to be in life.
“If you can impact these kids with a love for a sport, a foundation to know that God has given them a plan, purpose and destiny for their life, just that hope alone that they grow up feeling that our hope is that they have more chances to succeed and also believe into their own self and their abilities,” Dobbs said.
Dobbs said he can relate to these kids in many ways.
“Growing up in a drug, gang environment, I never had any positive influences, role models or NBA players coming into my community to speak to me,” Dobbs said.
Dobbs hopes his personal story inspires them to never give up.
“When you put God first in your life and you work hard every day, you know you can make your dreams come true, so that's kind of where the foundation started with me and I hope that's the message that they take home today.”