Brandon Bass Reach Back Foundation Mission Statement:
The mission of the Brandon Bass Reach Back Foundation is to provide a diverse range of programs and activities designed to encourage and enhance the lives of underprivileged youth in disadvantaged communities.
Brandon Bass Helping Underprivileged
by Randy Rosetta
While he navigated a difficult childhood, Brandon Bass didn’t have many mentors to show him how to reach for his dream.
So when his basketball skills supplied the financial means for the former Capitol High and LSU star to fill a role nobody did for him, Bass saw the chance to give something back and seized it.
Bass wrapped up a basketball camp for Baton Rouge youth on Thursday, taking another step toward completing the circle that began when his life was suddenly flipped upside-down 13 years ago.
The camp was free to campers and about 75 showed up for the week. Bass, who emerged as a key reserve for the Dallas Mavericks last year in his first season with the team, also held a camp for underprivileged youth in Fort Worth earlier this summer.
“Once I realized I was going to be an NBA player, I just wanted to find a way to help other kids to make it to this point in life,” said the 23-year-old Bass, the 2005 SEC Player of the Year. “When I was growing up I didn’t have any inspiration, just bad influences. I wanted to be a positive role model and this is my way to give something back.”
Bass’s path to a blossoming NBA career has never been the easiest one.
His mother Aretha Bass died of a heart attack when she was only 32 years old (Brandon was 10), right in front of her oldest son.
Suddenly the man of the house, Bass moved with his younger brother and sister into their father’s house, but when that relationship soured Bass and his siblings moved from Port Allen to Baton Rouge to live with their aunt Estelle Bass and her five children.
During that transitory period, Bass let his basketball dreams grow dormant while he adjusted to a life without both parents. He doesn’t want the kids at his camp to fall into the same cycle.
“From the time I was 10-to-12, all I did was ride my bike all day during the summer,” Bass said. “When I turned 13 was when I focused in on basketball and started taking it more seriously.
“With these camps, my goal is to reach back to underprivileged kids and give them a way to grow and develop their basketball skills. I only wanted 50 kids so I could keep in touch with them and stay close, but when more kids showed up it was hard for me to turn them down, so we ended up with about 75.”
One camper in Fort Worth tugged at Bass’ heartstrings a little more than the rest.
To attend Bass’ camp in Fort Worth, campers were required to write an essay. Ashley Minor’s essay painted a troubling picture of living homeless with her mother and three younger siblings.
Touched by the story, Bass and Dallas Cowboys cornerback Adam Jones got together to find Ashley’s family an affordable apartment. On Wednesday, Bass and Jones presented Natasha Minor with a $3,000 trip to a local furniture store.
“Ashley’s essay really touched me,” Bass said. “I felt like I needed to help in any way I could.”
The camps are only part of Bass’s giving back. He also formed an elite-level AAU program last summer with the idea of giving as many players possible the chance to be seen by college coaches.
“God has just blessed me in so many ways,” Bass said. “I’ve had to work hard to get where I am, and had to go through a lot. Now I just want to give something back.”