xml:space="preserve">

San Antonio Spurs forward Rudy Gay came back home to Baltimore to open a basketball gym in Towson called PickUp USA Fitness.

Gay, 33, grew up in the Baltimore area, playing for Eastern Tech for the first two years of his high school career before transferring to Archbishop Spalding for the final two. The former Connecticut star, in his 14th NBA season, stopped by the gym Tuesday with his Spurs teammates, family, friends and a litany of young athletes awaiting his return to the city that built him.

Advertisement

“I’m from here and it’s a chance for me to have a foundation here,” said Gay, who was drafted eighth overall by the Houston Rockets in 2006 and has spent time with the Memphis Grizzlies, Sacramento Kings and Toronto Raptors. “I’m a basketball player — that’s what I do for a living. So, that’s what I know. I wanted to bring that home.”

PickUp USA Fitness’ gym wasn’t completely finished, but it will have a hardwood court installed before its official opening in December. The “soft opening” Tuesday was to display what’s in store for future members. The full-service fitness club specializes in basketball with regulated pickup games with referees.

In January, Gay announced that he would open locations in South Florida and Towson in conjunction with California-based PickUp USA Fitness.

“We offer a basketball-based gym membership, classes,” Gay said. “A lot of classes are for training and not necessarily just basketball, but also our weightlifting equipment. We have court rentals, we have private training, we have referees, pickup games. Baltimore has been a basketball city, so I just wanted to bring back to the city somewhere safe to play."

The gym aims to provide a haven for the community and a place to train for younger players growing up in the area.

Among some of the student-athletes who attended was Friends School’s Timothy Douglass, who interviewed Spurs star DeMar DeRozan. Players from Lake Clifton also took the opportunity for mock interviews with Gay and DeRozan.

Gay’s father, Rudy Gay Sr., was one of Gay’s family members in attendance. The elder Gay, who still resides in Baltimore County, takes pride in his son’s accomplishments on and off of the court, especially providing for the Baltimore community.

“It’s great,” Gay Sr. said. “I make sure that he’s not complacent about where he’s at in life because he could wake up tomorrow morning and it could all be shattered. He’s got a pretty level head and we instilled that in him.

“I’m blessed, he’s blessed, and we thank the Lord every day. To see these kids coming in for Rudy, to put a smile on their face, man, that warms my heart.”

With a game against the Washington Wizards on Wednesday night, Gay praised his teammates for showing up to support his cause. Joining Gay were the aforementioned DeRozan, Chimezie Metu, Bryn Forbes and Dejounte Murray.

“It means a lot,” Gay said. “Obviously, we’re teammates and we get paid to be around each other all day, but when they come and support us with things like this, it means a lot.”

PickUp USA has locations in Arizona, California, Florida, Nevada, North Carolina and Texas.

Recommended on Baltimore Sun

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement