Posted: Jun 28, 2010 4:33 PM
Updated: Jun 28, 2010 5:57 PM
TUCSON - Joseph Blair is a well known name around Tucson. He was a University of Arizona basketball player, former Globetrotter, and European league MVP.
But the accomplishment he is most proud of is establishing the Arizona Basketball Academy.
"Some of these kids who wouldn't even get to see some of the wildcat games now they get to have the players as their coach patting them on the back and making jokes with them. So I am just a facilitator and I am happy to be that," said Blair.
For the past ten years, Blair has been putting on the basketball camp at no charge for the players.
"Hopefully they learn something by the end of the week, not just basketball or free throws or layups but also how to meet different people, how to make new friends, and how to respect other people," said Blair.
"I like playing basketball. It's my favorite thing to do and I like coming to the camp here with J.B. He's pretty funny," said 16 year old, Ivan Silva.
Blair's impact on kids in Tucson has local officials taking notice.
On June 23, 2010, Mayor Bob Walkup declared it Joseph Blair day.
"The city's been so great to us and so gracious to us and so giving to us as basketball players the men's and women's programs that it's past due that we step up and give back to the city as much as possible," said Blair.
Blair encourages other former University of Arizona basketball players to help out.
"He gave me the idea, like an inspiration, to say you know what it's not only basketball you can help these kids by what you make it and then come and change their life, just come talk to them learn them about basketball and life skills," said Mohamed Tangara.
"The first thing they do at camp is run up to me and say hey J.B. what's up and want to give me a high five or one of the little girls wants to give me a hug or whatever the case it is. It means a lot to me, it definitely touches the deepest more sincere part of my heart," said Blair.
A love for basketball brings these kids to Blair and his hopes are not only to improve their shot, but also improve their outlook for the future.
In the past year, Blair created the Arizona Basketball Alumni Foundation to teach graduating players to immediately become involved in the community.
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