Richmond families got an early Thanksgiving on Sunday, thanks to the generosity of a local basketball legend.
Drew Gooden was back in his hometown Sunday to sponsor a holiday meal with all the trimmings at Richmond’s Booker T. Anderson Community Center.
Gooden is a former star at El Cerrito High School who later attended the University of Kansas and last played for the Milwaukee Bucks.
But he says in his success he hasn’t forgotten about the people back home.
“I like to come home and give back,” he said. “For me to be able to come back and do something like this, it means a lot.”
It was like a homecoming for Gooden who spent a lot of time on the basketball court at Booker T. Anderson Center in south Richmond. At 6’10, the power forward towered over the many kids that attended the event, but that didn’t stop the youngsters from giving him a handshake or posing for a photo.
“Being here brings back a lot of memories,” he said. “It’s an honor that people here at the community center remember me and give me the facility to do what I want to do to help the community.”
In his senior year of high school, Gooden led the El Cerrito basketball team to the 1999 California Interscholastic Federation Boys Division III championship game. After his junior year at the University of Kansas, he entered the NBA draft in 2002 and was selected as the fourth overall pick by the Memphis Grizzlies. He has played with nine teams throughout his career and is currently a free agent.
Gooden continues to give back through his foundation, helping kids and families in Richmond with annual Christmas toy distributions and free youth basketball summer camps. This was the first year Gooden’s foundation sponsored a Thanksgiving dinner, where nearly 200 people showed up for a meal, and he hopes to make it an annual event.
“This gives people hope and inspiration to see one of Richmond’s own come and give back,” said Marisha Jones, one of the dinner’s volunteers.
“Drew is giving the community a good meal and showing them they are not forgotten.”