While playing with the Sacramento Kings in his first four seasons, current New Orleans Pelicans guard Tyreke Evans made a name for himself off the court with his free basketball camp that he hosted in partnership with VSP Vision Care. Now, instead of returning to Sacramento to host the camp, Evans decided to return to his hometown of Chester, Pennsylvania, to host his free basketball camp and offer free eye care for the first time in his career.
“I’m just working with VSP, you know, they helped a lot and without them it would be a lot more difficult for me, but they helped me a lot with this and I’m just excited about the first time coming here with the camp and being around all the kids,” said Evans.
“I’m happy I got a chance to do it because when I was a kid we always wanted something like this, now I’m just happy I got a chance to see them.”
The 2010 NBA Rookie of the Year has teamed up with VSP Vision Care the past few years, so he understands how important it is to get your eyes checked on a yearly basis and he wanted to provide that to his hometown.
“I think it’s good for a kid to get their eyes checked at least once a year. It will help them whether it’s in class or out of class, maybe something sports related, it helps them in a lot of ways.”
On site there was a 45-foot state-of-the-art mobile eye care clinic where both adults and children were able to receive free eye exams by a local VSP optometrist and were provided with free glasses if needed.
As for the basketball side of things, Evans continues to do what he can in terms of giving them advice about situations that may happen both on and off the court.
“With the camp, I’m just trying to make it better. For the kids, I just go out there and talk to them and hopefully they learn something during the day about basketball on and off the court and just about life, period.”
In 2011, the White House named both Chester, Pennsylvania, and New Orleans, Louisiana, as two of the six cities in the United States that needed assistance in its Strong Cities Strong Communities initiative. As someone who was born and raised in Chester and now makes a living in New Orleans, Evans is no stranger to helping a community in need and lends a hand whenever he can, however he can.
“In New Orleans the players get out into the community a lot and interact with the fans. We go to high schools and events, we’ve been to a few games so far throughout the year, and the kids love it when they see us come out and support them at their games. I think that’s something that, you know, it makes them happy,” explained Evans.
“My favorite thing is visiting the high schools. A lot of the schools there are pretty interesting. A lot of kids that don’t want to keep an eye on school, we come in and try to tell them to stay in school and they’ll do right in life,” he continued.
“We just try to tell them to stay focused in school and work hard. The ones that love basketball, we tell them that’s good and they should always keep working on their game, but they should always have a backup plan just in case.”
It seems that New Orleans and Evans may be a perfect fit. He understands what the fans have been through and he appreciates everything that they do for the team on a daily basis.
“I think the important thing is that without the fans this wouldn’t be possible. The people out there in New Orleans, you know, they appreciate us for what we do on the court, so we just try to go out and support them. Whether we get a call from the front office and they ask for a few guys to go out and do something for a charitable organization, it’s never a problem for a guy to go out and show their support for those guys.”
Perhaps next summer Evans will think about having the camp in both Chester and New Orleans. Only time will tell.
For more information on VSP Vision Care, visit https://www.vsp.com/
[All photos courtesy of Talyr Williams]