Wednesday, February 27, 2008

All-Star Antawn Jamison's Katrina story

Posted by on Wed, Feb 27, 2008 at 4:15 AM

click to enlarge Antawn and the kids

At first glance, nothing seems amiss in this photo. Wizards forward Antawn Jamison with 20 kids he bought tickets for through his “A Better Tomorrow” foundation. Many players all over the league buy tickets to home games for kids.

But take a closer look at the background and see that those are the lower-bowl seats inside the Hornets Arena. This photo was taken at Monday night’s Hornets-Wizards game at the Hive. Turns out that Jamison, though he played his high school ball in North Carolina, was born in Shreveport, La.

“It's an opportunity for the kids to see a couple of tall guys and see some exciting basketball," he said. "Especially now, you try to make it as normal as possible for kids to be kids."

The NBA Cares program in New Orleans has been much publicized locally and nationally, but the hurricane didn’t directly affect most of the NBA players that helped out. Though they were no longer living in Louisiana, Jamison’s parents were in New Orleans visiting family when Katrina hit.

“We kinda got taken by storm when it happened," Jamison said. "They couldn't rent a car to get out of the city. They were pretty much at the hotel until the last day when they moved them to the airport."

Jamison kept in touch with his parents every day as they struggled to find a way out, along with the thousands of other hurricane refugees. The couple was stranded for ten days until Jamison’s father, Albert, was able to find himself and his wife, Kathy, a ride to Houston.

Three years later, the entire Jamison family returned to New Orleans, under much more desirable circumstances. Walking through the French Quarter with his parents, wife and child, Jamison was relieved to see the city come back to life.

"A lot of people were saying that the atmosphere was dead, it wasn't the same," he said. “I had the opportunity to go down to the French Quarter and it was just as normal as I remembered it.”

Monday night was a shorter stay than during the All-Star break. But for Jamison, it was another chance to give back to the community. When asked if he minded if the kids he bought tickets for rooted against him, Jamison laughed.

“This is the only time I won’t be mad,” he said.

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