Derrick Favors - Making a Positive Impact
By Matt Sanchez - UtahJazz.com
In the middle of a church gym with nearly the entire town of Tabiona (less than 200 people) looking on, in awe, Derrick Favors was just one of the kids. He taught skills, joked around, laughed, and showed that even the smallest of towns deserve his time. “It’s amazing that so many people come out to see me and it’s funny because I don’t see myself as a star,” Favors said. “I’m not even that much older than a lot of these kids.”
Tabiona was just the first stop on a five-day road trip that had the budding-star teaching clinics to Junior Jazz kids on a 1500-mile venture across the state of Utah.
On the court Favors is an up-and-coming player bursting with potential. At 6’10”, 250 pounds, he’s strong, physical and intimidating. Off the court, the toughness and grit go away and he’s more or less a gentle giant. This was never more evident than when a toddler girl walked onto the court during a basketball drill. She was trying to make a mini-ball into the regulation size basket. She obviously couldn’t do it herself so Favors walked over, gave her a high-five and helped her dunk the ball. She ran back to mom grinning ear to ear.
“I was just like them once too,” Favors said. “I know what it’s like to look up to someone and how the smallest things can and will stay with them forever. If I can help them in a positive way than I’ll do it.”
During his week as a Jr. Jazz ambassador, he spent countless hours playing games with kids, laughing with them and making them feel important. At the end of each clinic he took the time to take photos and sign autographs for each and every person who wanted one.
People would assume this sort of thing is written into a player’s contracts. It’s not. Favors volunteered to go on this trip and travel up and around an entire state.
“This was fun for me,” Favors said. “I’m from Atlanta so getting to see all the different parts of Utah was pretty cool, especially the red mountains. I might do this again next year.”
Every summer since 1984, the Jazz has sent players to communities too far away to see a player appearance during the season. Former Jazz greats Karl Malone and John Stockton are among the numerous Jazz players to have participated in the Junior Jazz trips over the years. The Junior Jazz program is the largest and longest-running youth basketball league in the NBA and the Jazz is the only team in the NBA to conduct a summer tour. Junior Jazz programs promote sportsmanship, fundamental athletic development and having fun.