While Tristan Thompson’s primary role in the National Basketball Association (NBA) is rebounding and defending, he has proven that he’s adept at dishing out assists off the court.
The Brampton-born power forward, who is in his third season with the Cleveland Cavaliers, donated two scholarships that were presented at the Black Business & Professional Association (BBPA)-administered national awards last week at York University.
Thompson’s mother, Andrea, and family friend Joyce Allotey attended the event.
“Tristan has been blessed and this is a good opportunity for him to give back,” said the Jamaican-born mom. “It doesn’t take much for him to help those who are in need. When he returns to Toronto, he makes it his duty to gather a few of his high school friends and rent a room in a downtown Toronto hotel for them to socialize and have fun. I have always told him that he should never forget where he came from and he should give back, especially now that he’s in a position to do that. When you give freely, you receive in abundance.”
It was while he was in the city last August preparing with the national team for the International Basketball Federation’s (FIBA) Americas tournament in Venezuela that Thompson made the decision to award the scholarships.
“The team was having lunch when Tristan mentioned that he wanted to give back something to this community,” recalled Rowan Barrett, Canada Basketball assistant general manager and executive vice-president of the senior men’s program. “Even though he’s not here most of the year, his heart is still in the Greater Toronto Area and he’s interested in making an impact in young people’s lives.
“When I told him the BBPA has been awarding scholarships nationally for over two decades, he became very interested and made the decision to align himself with that organization. He made it clear that he wanted a male and female recipient and he took the time from his busy schedule to read the applicants’ profiles before making the selections. He’s very serious about this and very much involved in the process with his mom’s support. This is a manifestation of the character of the man. Often, you could judge people by where they put their money. Clearly, he values his community, young people and, above all, education. I think this is just the beginning of positive contributions that he will make here.”
The inaugural Tristan Thompson scholarship winners were Leticia Emanuel and Keanu Elliott.
The youngest of three children who migrated with her family from Angola 12 years ago, Emanuel is enrolled in the University of Windsor’s human kinetics program. She aspires to be a physiotherapist.
Elliott, who graduated from Cardinal Ambrozic Catholic Secondary School in Brampton as an Ontario scholar, is a law student at Carleton University.
The son of Jamaica Ex-Soldiers Association (Canada) president Stanford Elliott has been a recipient, in the last four months, of scholarships administered by the Alliance of Jamaican Alumni Associations, the United Achievers Club of Brampton and the Jamaican Canadian Association.
Thompson attended St. Marguerite d’Youville Secondary School in Brampton for a year before heading to prep school in the United States. He was the fourth pick in 2011, making him the highest Canadian draft selection in the NBA at the time.
Cleveland Cavaliers teammate Anthony Bennett, who attended Harold Brathwaite Secondary School in Brampton prior to completing his high school education in the United States, was the number one overall pick in this year’s draft.