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Former Spalding star Rudy Gay, a 15-year NBA veteran, returns to Anne Arundel County to support social justice initiative

San Antonio Spurs forward Rudy Gay, who just completed his 15th season in the NBA, returned to Anne Arundel County to support the Social Justice Celebrity Charity Weekend.
San Antonio Spurs forward Rudy Gay, who just completed his 15th season in the NBA, returned to Anne Arundel County to support the Social Justice Celebrity Charity Weekend. (Eric Gay)

Rudy Gay did not need to think twice when asked to support the Social Justice Celebrity Charity Weekend being held in Annapolis and Anne Arundel County.

Growing up in eastern Baltimore County and having spent plenty of time in Baltimore City, Gay saw first-hand many of the issues that led to the current social reckoning in the United States.

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“Being a Black man growing up in Baltimore, I’ve dealt with it. We all have at some point,” said Gay, who just completed his 15th season in the NBA.

Gay, who still makes his permanent home in the Baltimore area, was hopeful his name and presence would help make this weekend’s activities a success.

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“I want to donate my time and do my part to support the cause,” he said. “Obviously, social justice is a very important movement and there are a lot of things that still need to be changed. I want to lend my voice and be part of affecting change however I can.”

Kyle Williams, founder of the Chase Your Dreams initiative, knew he could count on the former Archbishop Spalding star to support the cause. Chase Your Dreams partnered with Anne Arundel County and the City of Annapolis to organize the Social Justice Celebrity Charity Weekend, with all proceeds going to various nonprofit charities.

Historic Chambers Park will be one beneficiary of the charitable outreach, while the Breonna Taylor Foundation, named after a Black medical worker who was shot and killed by Louisville police officers in March 2020, is another. Williams said all nonprofit organizations were identified based off “helping out our youth and also our underserved portions of the community.”

A pair of free clinics were conducted Friday at the Boys and Girls Club of Annapolis with organizers bringing youngsters down from Meade Village to participate.

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Renowned NBA trainer Pat “The Rock” Robinson directed a basketball clinic in the upstairs gym, while artist Comacell Brown led an art clinic in the recreation hall on the first floor. Former NBA standout Stephen Jackson provided free hot meals as part of his “Grab and Go” program.

Activities culminate Saturday afternoon with a pair of all-star basketball games at Annapolis High. Kicking off the festivities will be a challenge game between Annapolis police and firefighters at 4 p.m. That will be followed by the Stephen Jackson Social Justice Celebrity Charity game, presented by Truit, at 7 p.m.

Jackson, Lamar Odom and Daxter Miles are among several former NBA player participating. North County High graduate Trevelin Queen, who is with the G League affiliate of the Houston Rockets, is also playing.

Black Ink reality television star Ceaser Emmanuel, Annapolis native Dylan Gilmer of Nickelodeon’s “Young Dylan” along with actors Barton Fitzpatrick from the hit series “The Chi” and Jevon White of Netflix’s “Thunder Force” are among the celebrities appearing.

“We’re trying to unite people from all walks of life. We want to bring everyone together through sports with an emphasis on friendship and fun,” Williams said.

Including local police in the Social Justice weekend was purposeful, Williams said.

“We’re not here to bash law enforcement. We actually want to provide them with a platform to show their humans, too, and that they’re good people,” he said. “We want to foster better relationships between the community and law enforcement.”

Gay initially had planned to play in the celebrity game before realizing the date conflicted with the wedding of former Connecticut teammate Charlie Villanueva. He nonetheless enjoyed returning to Anne Arundel County where his basketball career really took off while at Spalding.

Gay, who was raised in Essex, transferred to the private, Catholic school in Severn from Eastern Tech as a junior. Coach Mike Glick recalled how the 6-foot-9 forward was not even rated a Top 250 player nationally at the time.

Photo by Andy Carruthers 2/24/04 Gibbons players look on with dismay as Rudy Gay finishes his career at Archbishop Spalding with a flamboyant flourish during the MIAA A Conference championship game at Gilman in Baltimore Monday night. The Cavaliers left as champions.
Photo by Andy Carruthers 2/24/04 Gibbons players look on with dismay as Rudy Gay finishes his career at Archbishop Spalding with a flamboyant flourish during the MIAA A Conference championship game at Gilman in Baltimore Monday night. The Cavaliers left as champions. (XX)

After two outstanding seasons at Spalding, Gay was named a McDonald’s All American and Parade Magazine first-team All-American. After averaging 21.2 points, 9.2 rebounds and 3.7 blocks as a senior, he was selected as Player of the Year by The Capital Gazette, The Baltimore Sun and The Washington Post.

Spalding compiled 55-15 overall record and 34-4 mark in the Baltimore Catholic League/MIAA A Conference during Gay’s two seasons. The Cavaliers were loaded with Division I talent at the time as Gay was surrounded by the likes of Will Bowers (Maryland), Jesse Brooks (UMES), Marquis Sullivan (Loyola Maryland), Justin Castleberry (Bucknell), Lawrence Dixon (Holy Cross) and Gus Durr (Mount St. Mary’s).

Spalding captured the MIAA A Conference regular season crown in 2003 and won the inaugural tournament championship in 2004. However, the Cavaliers lost back-to-back close contests to Mount Saint Joseph in the BCL tournament final those two years.

Gay has fond memories of those days and will always appreciate Spalding for providing a platform to showcase his talents. He was a back-to-the basket post player at Eastern Tech and was able to play on the wing facing the basket at Spalding because Bowers was a 7-footer.

“That’s essentially what made me basketball-wise. I went to Spalding and all the guys welcomed and accepted me,” Gay said. “I felt like part of the team right away and we did a lot of good things that helped get me where I am today.”

Gay is currently an unrestricted free agent after spending the past five seasons with the San Antonio Spurs. He hopes to sign quickly when free agency begins Aug. 1 and did not hesitate when asked to explain his longevity.

“I’d say my mindset. I always feel there is more I can learn and ways in which I can get better,” he said. “Also, just staying healthy. Taking care of my body and finding new and better ways to keep myself in shape.”

Gay, 34, has returned to Spalding often during his professional career and said he still stays in touch with most of his former teammates. Glick, who is now head coach at Meade High, is not surprised Gay has enjoyed such a lengthy NBA career.

“First of all, Rudy is an incredibly talented player and has been an asset to every team he’s played,” Glick said. “Just as important, Rudy is such a great person. He’s lived a wholesome life and has never let success go to his head.”

Gay has been involved with myriad charitable endeavors during his NBA career and recently hosted youngsters from the O’Donnell Heights location of the Boys and Girls Club of Metro Baltimore for a private screening of “Space Jam: A New Legacy.”

“Honestly, I just want to give back to the community I came from. I want to be a role model for kids who are just like I was. I appreciate my time playing professional basketball and what I’ve been able to do in my career because it gives me an opportunity to do good,” said Gay, whose career earnings are estimated at just shy of $162 million.

“A lot of times, people don’t think they can make it. Or think they have to do something illegal to make money,” he added. “I view myself as a beacon to offer encouragement and hope to show kids there is another way.”

Family and teammates at Archbishop Spalding cheer as Rudy Gay (center) announces he will attend Connecticut. Gay's stock rose with his summer performance at the Nike showcase in Indianapolis.
Family and teammates at Archbishop Spalding cheer as Rudy Gay (center) announces he will attend Connecticut. Gay's stock rose with his summer performance at the Nike showcase in Indianapolis. (Sun photo by Elizabeth Malby)
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