By Kallan Louis
January 29, 2017
Charlotte Hornets point guard Kemba Walker is having his most impactful individual season as a pro. After averaging a career-high in points per game, as well as being among the eastern conference leaders in three pointers made, in January, he was named to the 2017 NBA All-Star Game roster for the first time.
While Charlotte continues to recover emotionally and financially from losing the NBA’s premier showcase, residents can find solace in knowing the Hornets’ floor general will represent Buzz City in New Orleans, Louisiana. Charlotte has not had an all-star since Gerald Wallace in 2010.
Walker’s leadership seems to be transitioning off the court as well. Just two days before receiving the all-star nod, the Hornets announced the establishment of the Hornets Players Scholarship Fund. The new initiative will award two graduating high school seniors in Charlotte-Mecklenburg County $15,000 a year for four years ($60,000 total for each) toward their pursuit of an associate or bachelor’s degree from an accredited public North Carolina institution of higher education.
The fund was created by players in response to local unrest and protest in September following the police-involved shooting of Keith Lamont Scott. According to teammates, Walker was the catalyst that lead to the scholarship’s creation.
“It was Kemba’s idea,” said teammate Marvin Williams, a graduate of UNC at Chapel Hill. “We really wanted to impact someone’s life in a positive way and us kind of giving back, helping kids get an education around the state of North Carolina is the way we felt like we could do it.”
In addition to providing financial support, there will be a mentorship component, allowing scholarship recipients to maintain an ongoing relationship with the organization throughout college.
“We hope that through this scholarship fund we are able to help two deserving students attend college and ultimately pursue their career dreams, said Walker. “With this scholarship and our organization’s mentorship activities, we truly believe we can directly provide the tools through education that will have a life-long impact.”
Interested students must be a graduating senior from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg accredited school this academic year, posses at least a 2.5 GPA, demonstrate a financial need and plan to enroll full-time in an associate or bachelor’s degree program at an accredited public North Carolina institution of higher education in the fall directly following high school graduation. To see the full list of requirements and apply for the scholarship, go to the Hornets Players Scholarship Fund webpage.
Once the police-involved shooting protests died down and national spotlight faded, we were left to address some long-standing issues and relieve tensions within our community. But more than that, it is all of our responsibilities to proactively identifying ways to improve economic mobility, law enforcement’s relationship with the community and race relations within Charlotte. It seems like the Hornets are taking a step in the right direction.
“This has been one of the best [organizations] I’ve been around for sure,” said Williams. “I think it starts all the way from the top. Obviously, our owner [Michael Jordan] is really passionate about giving back to the community. North Carolina means a great deal to him and he definitely tries to show it. Any opportunity that we have to give back to the community, we definitely try to be on top of it.”
The deadline is February 15, 2017 and you can apply on the Hornets Players Scholarship Fund website.