Keita and Kai Bates-Diop hold basketball camp at Normal U-High, inspiring the next generation

Published: Jun. 25, 2022 at 10:46 PM CDT
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NORMAL (Heart of Illinois ABC) - Youth basketball players got their chance to learn from an NBA player and Normal U-High graduation Keita Bates-Diop and his brother Kai, also a U-High graduate.

But Saturday’s camp was about more than just basketball.

About 100 young basketball players took the court Saturday for the KBD Skills Camp at Normal U-High, the court that started everything.

“Here’s where I developed a love for the game, where I really got better at, developed my craft,” Keita said. “The friendships and relationships I made here really helped me grow as a person and a player.”

San Antonio Spur Keita is coming off his fourth year in the NBA, and his brother Kai, a student manager for Butler basketball, is inspiring the next generation of players.

“They’re huge role models just because they have experience at playing at a big level and it’s a great experience,” said Devin Fitzgerald, a camper at KBD Skills Camp.

“It means a lot because this area, not a lot of guys have come out to play in the NBA as long as I have,” Keita said. “So, for this community for me to come back and my brother to be around and do as much as we can for the community is big for me.”

“It’s just about engaging with the community, being able to give back to the younger generation just with all the things I learned through basketball, all the things my brother learned through basketball,” Kai said.

For Kai and Keita, Saturday’s camp was about more than just basketball. Each camp fee goes towards buying and then donating a device that saved Kai’s life.

“Right here on this gym floor my sophomore year of high school I went into cardiac arrest and the athletic trainers that were in the building had a really exceptional response time,” Kai said. “They were able to administer a shock to me. I responded on the first shock and I’m still here today.”

Since then, the family continues to raise awareness for AEDs

“That was a big moment in our lives and has kind of changed his course of life obviously,” Keita said. “So, it’s been raising the money, raising awareness so all high schools and middle schools have at least one on-site.”

“My family has been able to give out 12 or 13 AEDs in the state of Illinois just to give everybody that same chance of if something does go wrong, they all have an equal chance of being able to survive,” Kai said.

The family said the camp raised about $2,000, enough to purchase about two AEDs.

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