Starkville native and member of the Sacramento Kings Travis Outlaw, right, shares a light moment with one of the campers Tuesday at the Elite Basketball Camp. (Photo by Kim Murrell, SDN)
Many professional athletes don't make it to where they are without support and a good background.
For Starkville native Travis Outlaw, it is something he is grateful he had.
Outlaw has played nine years in the National Basketball Association with four teams, including the Portland Trail Blazers, the Los Angeles Clippers, the New Jersey Nets and most recently with the Sacramento Kings.
That hasn't stopped him from hosting the Elite Basketball Camp at the Starkville Sportsplex over the years.
Outlaw is putting on that camp this week which started Tuesday.
"It's my way of giving back to the community and try to teach the game that I love to the kids that love it as much as I do," Outlaw said.
Outlaw entered the 2003 NBA draft straight out of high school. His high school coach, current SHS coach Greg Carter, came in his senior year and remembers the attention Outlaw got.
"At that time, he was already an NBA prospect," Carter said. We didn't know for sure whether or not he would be putting his name in the draft, but I think as time went on in his senior year, we had more and more pro scouts coming to games. It became apparent he would end up in the NBA."
Outlaw believes this camp is important because he had the same type of structure and support growing up.
"I am strong believer, like the Bible says, it takes a village to raise a child," Outlaw said. "I had a lot of support growing up through my years so anything I can to give back to the community, it helps me show how grateful I am of everyone who helped me and supported me through my career."
Carter is glad that Outlaw keeps coming back. He knows it might be easier for Outlaw to decide to stay in Sacramento, but he knows where Outlaw's heart is.
"I think it's great for Travis, growing up in this community, to come back and give back to his community," Carter said. "A lot of times, players go on and make it big in the professional level and never really come back home. He still lives here. Not only does he live here, he gives back."
Outlaw also gets a ton of help with his camp. Along with Carter, Outlaw's former high school teammate Leroy Hollingshed, his brother John Jr. and his father John Sr., all help out with the camp.
"A lot of people are willing to help and I am just thankful for it," Outlaw said.
The kids seem to enjoy the camp, but Outlaw also wants to help develop them as players.
"I am hoping they are having an enjoyable time, but also learning how to play the game," Outlaw said. "That is the most important thing, skill work. I hope they get something from it."
Carter sees how much Outlaw likes putting on the camp and how much he enjoys helping the kids.
"A lot of these kids don't know who he is," Carter said. "They end up getting a chance to meet him. He has a lot of fun with them. He can talk to them on their level. The kids love it."
Outlaw who played with the Kings last year will return for another year.
"It was a learning experience," Outlaw said. "I love what I do, and just hope for many more years to keep playing."
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