A dream came true for so many PeacePlayers participants and staff when NBA Hall of Famer and 2-time NBA Champion Ray Allen came to visit our program on May 15. Ray was joined by a couple of friends, including Benjamin Zicki and former NBA player Scott Burrell, whose presence only added to the excitement from our young athletes, who were very keen to train with such accomplished (and tall) players.
With over 50 participants, staff, and family in attendance, everyone was hanging on Ray’s every word, as he described his own experiences using basketball to overcome adversity. In his own words (which were translated to both Arabic and Hebrew by participants Sireen and Noa):
Ray and his friends also got to learn a bit about our context and program from our Executive Director, Karen, and two long-time participants turned project managers. But perhaps one of the most exciting moments of the event was when the young athletes got on the court and showed off their basketball skills to Ray in a few one-on-one drills, while also learning special tips from the legend himself. And of course, the day had to end with a fierce 3-pointer and half-court shooting tournament, since Ray was once the NBA 3-pointer record holder for nearly a decade!
Ray himself summed up the event perfectly when he shared a selfie with Arab and Jewish PeacePlayers on his personal social media pages, together with a heartfelt caption with his 6.5M followers:
“(…) Amidst the turmoil in the world, specifically in the Middle East, tonight was a bright spot. I had the distinct pleasure to be part of the PeacePlayers Middle East basketball club, where I watched, helped, instructed, defended, and chased Palestinian girls and Jewish girls as they worked together to become a team and learn the game of basketball. I watched them put aside whatever differences they have in their neighborhoods and come together in the gym to help each other learn the game and grow as young women. So, as I head home tonight I feel encouraged that change is coming and these young women I worked with today will be leading the charge.”