Former UofL basketball player aims to impart life lessons to hol - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Former UofL basketball player aims to impart life lessons to holiday campers

Tuesday, one of Louisville's most well-known sports stars hoped to take advantage of that by offering a camp for some of those youngsters. (Source: WAVE 3 News) Tuesday, one of Louisville's most well-known sports stars hoped to take advantage of that by offering a camp for some of those youngsters. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
The goal was to teach the children skills they can use both on and off the court. (Source: WAVE 3 News) The goal was to teach the children skills they can use both on and off the court. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Robbie Valentine (Source: WAVE 3 News) Robbie Valentine (Source: WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - By now, kids have had their holiday-break fun and, many of them are probably starting to get a little restless.

Tuesday, one of Louisville's most well-known sports stars hoped to take advantage of that by offering a camp for some of those youngsters. It was held in the Portland neighborhood and the goal was to teach them skills they can use both on and off the court.

In a town crazy about its basketball, there's still a lot we can learn about how to play.

"A lot of the kids think, 'You know, I'm a baller,'" former UofL basketball player Robbie Valentine said. "When you get them out here and put them in a structured environment and teach them the footwork, they haven't really been taught a lot of those things."

Who better to give that instruction than Valentine, who this week put on two free holiday-week camps for children from all over Metro Louisville.

"It's hard for kids to stay focused," he said. "They've got to do something to get out of the house and do something that's constructive and very structured.

"If it's not that way, a lot of the kids sometimes will go out and they create themselves some trouble."

Here, the opportunity extends well beyond basketball. For instance, Valentine told the campers, "If you do your homework every night and you turn it in, it's going to make you feel pretty good, right?"

He teamed up with Metro Parks to make sure that the kids know the best skills to have are the ones that can better their lives.

"He always starts out (by saying), 'Tuck in your shirts, tie your shoes, pull up your shorts because the image you present is how people are going to perceive you," Metro Parks Assistant Director of Recreation Ben Johnson said.

This year, Valentine has something else he wants the children to know.

"What's going on today in this world with police officers, don't listen to anybody (else)," he told the campers. "You need to trust the police officers. You have their back and they're going to have your back."

Renee Jumper drove across town from the Newburg area to make sure her 9-year-old son could be a part of it.

"I would love for my son to remember just to do well in school, to always put school first and then sports second," she said.

That's a goal Valentine calls a slam dunk.

"Three percent of the kids at my camp will end up playing high school basketball," he said. "The rest of them are going to be hopefully focused on being a doctor, a nurse, a police officer, something that's going to be successful in their area."

This is Valentine's 29th year to do these holiday camps. He also does them during spring break and the summer.

Metro Parks officials hope the camps are a draw to bring in kids who haven't experienced a community center before. The thought is that they might like what they see in the gym, or computer lab, or connect with the staff and find a place to grow and stay away from trouble.

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