The messages uttered by members of 2XSalt Ministries present in Lincoln Charter Schoolâ€™s gym on Thursday were heeded by those in attendance.
Listen to your parents, work hard in school, be a good teammate, donâ€™t let your basketball collect dust.
But the biggest message they brought to the kids was the message of Jesus.
â€œLifeâ€™s about making the right decisions and choices,â€ said David Thompson at the end of the basketball clinic. â€œThere is no greater choice youâ€™ll ever make than accepting God through his son, the Lord Jesus Christ.â€ Thompson is a Naismith Hall of Famer.
Bart Kofoed, who spent six years playing in the NBA, went onto Cisco Food Services.
Despite having a successful corporate career, something was missing.
In 2003, Kofoed established 2XSalt Inc. with one purpose in mind.
â€œI left that environment and started a Christian ministry to work with at-risk kids and use sports and education as a vehicle to share the gospel,â€ Kofoed said.
The name of the ministry stems from Matthew 5:13-16, where Jesus instructed his disciples to be salt and light of the world.
Being obedient to the vision has reaped big dividends for Kofoed.
Not only has his ministry set up three mentoring programs, had the opportunity to do many basketball and soccer clinics, but just a year ago, Thompson, along with a fellow NBA legend Bobby Jones, came on board.
â€œItâ€™s the best of all worlds; we love the game of basketball and we love Jesus,â€ Jones said of his involvement with 2Xsalt Inc. â€œWe can share that and itâ€™s something that will last hopefully for eternity.â€ Jones added 2XSalt Inc. soon will start its own school.
Ask and you shall receive
Lincoln Charter School Principal David Machado already had booked 2XSalt for a soccer clinic in August.
He then asked if they did basketball clinics and was informed Kofoed, Thompson and Jones conducted those clinics.
One simple request later, three former NBA players stood in his gym.
â€œI think itâ€™s more awesome for the parents that are watching because they remember seeing these guys play,â€ Machado said. â€œThe kids arenâ€™t quite sure who they are, but the fact that two of the greatest ACC players are in our gym teaching our youth basketball skills is very awesome,â€ he said.
One of those parents who was as giddy as a little kid was Chris Easterling.
â€œI grew up watching both of them (Thompson and Jones) play and I was trying to explain to my sons on the way over here who they were,â€ he said. â€œI was just as excited on the way over here as they were to see them up-close and personal.â€ Easterling sons, Ian (13) and Tim (12) participated in the clinic.
Basketball and a message
There were 13 kids who participated in Thursday morningâ€™s basketball clinic.
Mary Canipe, Tim Easterling and Steven White were given awards.
During the clinic, the group of 13 worked on basic basketball fundamentals and played â€˜knock out,â€™ a game that primarily focuses on who can put the ball in the hoop first.
After the clinic, they were seated in the bleachers where Jones, Thompson and Kofoed had their full attention.
Jones shared a story from his playing days with the Philadelphia 76ers.
â€œDr. J would be the first guy in the locker room to come up after the game, put his arm around you and tell you everything would be okay if you missed the game-winning shot,â€ Jones said, reinforcing what it means to be a good teammate.
Thompson encouraged the kids to always follow their dreams and believe in themselves.
He then shared the story of Charlotte Hornetsâ€™ guard Tyrone â€˜Muggsyâ€™ Bogues and how, even at 5â€™3,â€ the former Wake Forest standout worked hard and defied conventional wisdom by becoming the shortest player ever in the NBA.
â€œThere he was on a fast break, lobbing the ball up to L.J. (Larry Johnson) for a slam dunk,â€ Thompson said.
Jake Tassy, who played major league soccer for three and a half years, also helped with Thursdayâ€™s clinic even though itâ€™s not his primary sport.
â€œA lot of times people fail to recognize that when you play professional sports, it gives you a platform that not a lot of people have to talk to others about God,â€ he said.
Thompson, the former â€˜Skywalkerâ€™ and number one draft pick, feels 2xSalt is so important because of all the distractions that exist.
â€œThere are so many things kids that can get involved in, like drugs, guns, gangs and crime,â€ he said. â€œItâ€™s important they have positive influences in their life.
â€œIf theyâ€™re founded in the Word (the Bible) and have Christ at the center of their life, it will help them make good choices and say no to some of the negative things that are out there,â€ Thompson said.
â€œI know itâ€™s been helpful as far as my recovery is concerned,â€ he said. â€œItâ€™s the most important thing in my life.â€ Thompson has been sober nearly 17 years.
â€œThatâ€™s why I tell the kids no matter where you go and what you do in life, that personal relationship with Christ has to be number one,â€ Thompson said.
The message wasnâ€™t lost on Les Canipe and his daughter Mary.
â€œIâ€™m impressed with what David Thompson did as player, but Iâ€™m much more impressed with what David has done with his life since basketball,â€ Les Canipe said.
â€œIt was fun,â€ said Mary. â€œWe played a lot of games. We learned passing, having back-spin on the ball and how important it is to have Jesus Christ in your life.â€
Bobby Jones demonstrates the importance of shooting a lay-up with the outside hand. The President of 2XSalt, Inc. gets a hand up to try to alter Jonesâ€™ shot. Chris Dean / LTN Photo
by John Mark Brooks