Hornets rookie guard mature beyond his years

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 13, 2005

New Orleans – Three-time Western Conference got milk? Rookie of the Month award winner J.R. Smith is putting his hard-earned money to good use, donating $10,000 to fund scholarships and an after-school meals program at a newly remodeled resource center in New Orleans East.

In partnership with the Hornets Read To Achieve initiative, the Housing Authority of New Orleans (HANO), and Second Harvest Food Bank of Greater New Orleans and Acadiana, Smith will provide $5,000 to start a Second Harvest Kids Café program and $5,000 to sponsor two $2,500 scholarships for adults who complete their GED classes and want to continue their educations at a local community college or trade school. Smith will use the money he earned from his participation in the Sprite Rising Stars Slam Dunk contest at All-Star Weekend to start the Kids Café program, and the money he’s received from his Rookie of the Month recognition will fund the two scholarships.

“This is a great way for me to show my appreciation to the people of New Orleans for their tremendous support during my rookie year”, said Smith. “I’ve accomplished a lot on the court this season, but I want to make an even bigger impact off the court during my career here in New Orleans”.

Both the Kids Café and GED programs will operate out of HANO’s newly remodeled Pecan Grove Center in New Orleans East. The Center was renovated by the Hornets through the team’s Read to Achieve commitments to the New Orleans community, and is the tenth reading and learning center that the Hornets have established over the past three seasons.

Read To Achieve is an NBA initiative aimed at developing a lifelong love of reading, reaching more than 50 million children worldwide each year. Locally, the Hornets participate in the Read To Achieve campaign through a number of programs that include reading incentives, player appearances at schools, resource center remodeling projects, and book drives. Since relocating to New Orleans, more than 180,000 kids have participated in the Books & Bugs reading incentive program, Hornets players have taken Reading Timeouts at more than 30 schools, and the Hornets have collected and donated more than 20,000 books to local schools and libraries throughout the New Orleans area.