John Wall Delivers Back-to-School Block Party to D.C. | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

John Wall Delivers Back-to-School Block Party to D.C.

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Updated: August 23, 2016

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On a sweltering Saturday afternoon in D.C., families gathered for a back-to-school event hosted by the John Wall Family Foundation at Malcolm X Elementary School in Southeast. This was the third year Wall’s charity provided backpacks and school supplies to kids.

There was a DJ, free Chick-fil-A, basketball games, corn hole, Connect Four, face painting, and balloons. Informational booths were set up by 106.7 The Fan, the D.C. Public Library, Boys & Girls Club of Greater Washington, Washington Animal Rescue League, Department of Health, Give Back Collaborative, and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. The Washington Wizards organization had a presence as well.

When Wall arrived, he immediately went to around to personally greet each volunteer. The three-time All-Star later addressed the crowd.

“I want thank all the parents for bringing your kids here. As part of John Wall Family Foundation, I am excited to be at Malcolm X Elementary to give back to the community. Like a lot of people before, we are not forced to do this. I do this because I want to. I love being involved with the families and being involved with the kids. The most important thing is for them to get their education. I know all you parents are preaching that to them, because without education, you can’t do nothing in life. You might not make it to be a professional athlete, but you might be a doctor or a teacher.

“I want to thank y’all for coming here. I am very excited to give them some school supplies or a book bag to get their day started when school starts. So let’s have some fun.”

Students lined up, accepted their school stuff, and got a picture taken with Wall. Some of the funniest moments came when a little kid would cry or run away from the photo opp. They hilariously had little regard for Washington’s star point guard.

Children also received prizes like a Wall bobblehead and basketball cards. John’s mom, Frances Pulley, ran one of the stations.

Wall took time to banter with parents, play games with youngsters, sign every autograph request, pose for selfies, and actually tied a mom in a pop-shot hoops game. She proceeded to talk smack to Wall; he laughed and gave her a double high-five.

The event was well-organized and attended, and the involvement of so many city and corporate partners was impressive. The District could always use some orchestrated positivity.

I asked Wall about his original philanthropic vision upon entering the league and how things have actually played out.

“It has been great. Everybody asked me why I started so late. I didn’t want to start something early and not have it be the way that I want it to be or be perfect. I think a lot of people get put in situations, try to start stuff early without having a plan or a vision. I wanted to plan mine out,” Wall said. “My John Wall Family Foundation and my John Wall team came together with this idea. Each year we are going to keep enhancing it. Adding new things to this block party.”

Other speakers included Zara Berry-Young, Malcolm X Elementary’s principal, and John Davis, chief of schools for DCPS. Berry-Young gave glowing remarks of her new favorite player: “Who are we going to be cheering for? John Wall, that is right. We are going to to be cheering for you. We got your back. Thank you so much.”

Earlier this summer, Wall was the recipient of the NBA’s seasonlong NBA Cares Community Assist Award; these type of  efforts are why that honor was well-deserved.

Notes.

  • HEALTH: Wall’s recovery from knee surgery is on schedule but he wouldn’t commit to a specific timetable on when he’ll be ready for the season—he will likely miss a few games. Wall did confirm to me that he is running and jumping, but just not going one-on-one or participating in basketball activities. He is filming a documentary about his rehab and recently teased a preview on Instagram.
  • TEAM-BUILDING: Wall organized a team workout for this week in Los Angeles. All the Wizards players have confirmed that they will attend, except for Marcin Gortat and Ian Mahinmi, who are in Europe.
  • OLYMPICS: I asked John if he was envious of Team USA in Brazil, because he had been a part of their program and likely would have been selected on the squad if it weren’t for surgery. “I always think about it. But like I said, God always has a plan. Hopefully I can be there in 2020, but if not, so be it. As long as our country comes back with a gold medal, that’s all that matters to me,” he said.
  • PRACTICE FACILITY: Malcolm X Elementary is located very close to where the Wizards new practice facility will be built (this event was hosted at various Boys & Girls Clubs in the past). Wall mentioned the proximity as one of the reasons he selected this school, so he could develop personal relationships in the local community. The arena, already $10 million more expensive than originally planned, is scheduled to open in the fall of 2018 and builders were recently named. John’s comment subtly assumed that he would be around for the opening, since he will be a free agent in the summer of 2018. Design drawings are scheduled to be released in September.
  • SHOE DEAL: When contract extension negotiations broke down between Wall and adidas, he ended up wearing different brands for the remainder of the season instead of his signature adidas shoes. The Modell’s Sporting Goods store in D.C.’s Columbia Heights neighborhood had an adidas sign of Wall up in their store all season, when he was actually rocking Nikes in games. (I broke this bizarre situation down with Slam Magazine’s Abe Schwadron on a Pixel-and-Roll podcast in January). This issue with adidas played a factor in Wall changing agent representation from Dan Fegan to Rich Paul. A source close to John told me in early June that securing a shoe deal was one of his main goals of this summer. It’s long been rumored that Wall would sign with Jordan Brand. With the calendar almost turning to September and Wall still being a sneaker free agent, I quizzed him if there was an update looming. “Naw, not yet, just waiting for the Olympics to get over.”
  • BACK-TO-SCHOOL: Growing up, Wall said he didn’t have a favorite backpack but that he remembers using the same one until 7th grade. When he arrived at the event, DJ Grizzly played “Teach Me How to Dougie.” Considering all the unfair grief Wall received from a certain sports radio host for dancing once during pre-game introductions, and how John’s on- and off-court behavior has made him a fool, I grinned at the song selection.

Pictures.

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John Wall with the staff of Malcolm X Elementary

 

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Adam McGinnis
Reporter / Writer / Media at TAI
Adam is a bro from the Midwest who's been bopping around the District of Columbia for years. He's down with a range of sports, etc. and has covered the Washington Wizards for TAI since 2010.