Former Cal-Hi Sports Mr. Basketball Baron Davis unveils Reading and Learning Center during Wednesday ceremony at his old elementary school in South Los Angeles. Ceremony emceed by women’s basketball great Cheryl Miller.
Before graduating from Crossroads High School in Santa Monica on LA’s Westside, two-time NBA All-Star Baron Davis learned the game and the importance of education at South Park Elementary in South Los Angeles, just a stone’s throw from his grandparents’ house where he grew up just off Manchester Blvd.
Davis’ years at South Park helped mold him into a successful adult, not to mention make the adjustment to attending Crossroads for his junior high and high school years across town — and with students from more affluent families. Honing his game at the courts of South Park and matriculating to Crossroads paid off, as Davis earned a basketballs scholarship to UCLA in 1996, signed with the Bruins in Spring of 1997 and entered the NBA Draft in 1999.
Davis wanted to aid the next generation of South Park Elementary students in acheiving their goals, just as his teachers and mentors did for him. Davis understands the responsibility of being a professional athlete and as Davis’ basketball career unfolded, he always wanted to give back to the school and community in which he came from.
On August 13, Davis unveiled a Reading and Learning Center (a renovated room at his former elementary school) in a ceremony emceed by former Poly of Riverside and USC women’s basketball great Cheryl Miller and attended by current South Park students and teengers in the community. Davis and other guest speakers told the audience the importance of believing in their goals and dreams.
“As a young boy, I was blessed to have people rally around me to help me make my dreams come true,” Davis said. “I made a commitment to myself then that I would do the same when I was older.”
On the playgrounds and Pro-Am Leagues of Los Angeles, such as the Drew League, Davis is known as “2EZ” in reference to the efortless manner in which basketball seems to come to him. In actuality, Davis spent long hours in his grandparent’s backyard and at South Park Elementary’s “Dunk Courts” honing his craft.
Davis would go on to lead Crossroads to the CIF Division IV state title in 1997. He was named Cal-Hi Sports’ Mr. Basketball, the prestigious honor given to the state’s top overall player, for the 1996-97 season. He was also named Gatorade National Player of the Year, an award that includes academics and community service as part of its criteria.