Local basketball legends reflect on where hoops has taken them as they give back to community
(Heart of Illinois ABC) - Oh, the places you’ll go, or for some Peoria-area hoops legends, oh the places basketball can take you. While basketball is at its core just a game, it’s taken these local legends to places they couldn’t imagine. It took Peoria High alum Shaun Livingston to a 17-year NBA career and four NBA championships with the Warriors.
“Basketball was always a vehicle for me,” Livingston said. “It was always something I did. It was always something I loved to do. A lot of my identity was wrapped into it but I think it’s a bigger picture. The perspective. There’s so many life skills that come with basketball.”
It took Washington alum Alec Peters to college at Valparaiso and now to a very successful pro career overseas in Europe. Simply put, basketball changed their lives
“I tell people this all the time,” Peters said. “I don’t think I would have left Washington if it wasn’t for basketball. I loved it here. I loved growing up here and basketball has taken me to every corner of the globe so far and I couldn’t imagine my life to this point without doing that.”
It took Manual legend Carla McGhee to the Olympics where she won a Gold Medal with the US National Team in 1996.
“That piece of leather, that round ball, it changed my life,” McGhee said.
And it all started right here in Central Illinois. This is where their basketball careers and the rest of their lives began and now they’re giving back to their hometowns, hosting camps over the last month or so. These are places where they’re incredibly proud to return to, hoping to share the game that changed their lives with the next generation
“This is my favorite week of the year by far,” Peters said. “It takes a lot more than just a little bit of planning that goes into it. It’s a true family thing for us. I can’t wait for this week to see what it brings from these kids.”
“I was in these camps,” Livingston said. “The Wayne McClains. The Coach Chuck Westendorfs. The Bradley camps with Hersey Hawkins and Jim Les. Now to be able to host these camps, you know, it’s special.”
“I came over the bridge today and I saw that sign for Peoria and it just never gets old,” McGhee said. “I’m proud to be a kid from Peoria that went on to do some really cool things.”
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