“I need you all to know better so you can do better,” said two-time NBA Championship winning Chicago Bull player Craig Hodges to youth at New Beginnings Youth Development Center (NBYDC) in Laurel, Maryland today. Hodges visited the juvenile facility - operated by the DC Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services (DYRS) - to speak to young people in the justice system about the elements required to ensure a fresh start.
“One of the most important things you have on your side is the power of choice – what you want versus what you need. You have to think about what got you into your circumstances. Did you do something because you needed to, or because you wanted to?” said Hodges. “Everything starts with a thought.”
Hodges is no stranger to adversity relating to personal choices. The acclaimed basketball player underwent extreme scrutiny and criticism when he encouraged other popular athletes to use their fame to help lift other Black Americans out of poverty. He speaks about these triumphs and struggles in his new book, “Long Shot,” where he also highlights that using his platform to raise awareness rarely sat well with his fellow players. He emphasized this to DYRS’ currently completely Black youth population.
“How did you overcome peer pressure from your teammates?” asked one young person. “You have to know who you are,” Hodges replied deftly. “Knowing who I am and what I stand for is what helped me get here today, and what made me want to speak to all of you. It’s important to me that you know that.”
Hodges later engaged with youth in the gym, challenging them in a three-point shoot-out and providing instruction on shooting form. Whether guiding them mentally or physically, Hodges words of wisdom and inspiring visit could only be classified as one thing - a sure shot.