Photo by Ken Maldonado
By Joseph Staszewski

Royal Ivey provides his basketball skills camp participants a unique experience through the basketball it teaches and the story it tells.

Ivey was in his hometown for the sixth straight year last weekend for a three-day camp at the Hollis Playground to teach hoops fundamentals and life skills to 150 kids ages 7-12. He did so while being just weeks away from again fighting to continue his NBA career.

He has spent nine seasons in the league after graduating from Benjamin Cardozo and the University of Texas. Ivey, whose father Rod performs layout duties for TimesLedger Newspapers, most recently played for the Philadelphia 76ers and has had to keep earning roster spots after his fourth year. He said he has workouts with the San Antonio Spurs and Atlanta Hawks after Labor Day and it has been reported that the Houston Rockets are also interested.

His determination to stay in the league he thinks makes him a role model for hard work and perseverance to kids who started exactly where he did.

“I’m a living example of somebody in the community that beat the odds and made a career out of it,” he said. “It takes a lot of dedication. It’s a privilege to play at that level.”

Ivey, who is the son of TimesLedger designer Rod Ivey, provides his campers with the foundation for that journey with a camp focused on teaching them skills on the court and in life. They learn about a crossover dribble along with proper nutrition techniques and study skills. The kids listened to a speech about competing from ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith. Nazr Mohammed, of the Chicago Bulls, stopped in and so did former NBA great Nate “Tiny” Archibald, who praised Ivey for his efforts in his community.

“This is a jumpstart for our kids,” Archibald said. “Even though a lot of them won’t be as successful as him in the sport, they can be successful in life.”

Peggy Beane, a single mother who recently moved to the community, saw the clinic as a great opportunity for her 7-year-old son Bryan Campbell to learn basketball and get to meet and interact with other kids in a fun environment. Ivey even participated in an impromptu dance contest with the kids after the awards ceremony.

“For someone to give back to his community so many times is extraordinary,” Beane said. “He cares so he goes back to his roots.”

Ivey helped Texas to four NCAA Tournament appearances, including the Final Four in 2003. He was the 37th pick by the Atlanta Hawks in the 2004 NBA draft and reached the 2012 Finals as a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder. Ivey doesn’t know where he will be next season, but he always plans on being a positive influence in Hollis and using story to inspire others.

“That’s what I’ve been doing my entire life, proving myself,” Ivey said. “It’s nothing new. I’ve been through this before.”

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