Al Horford is teaching young players the game of basketball just steps away from where his own dreams began.
The Hawks center has been in the Dominican Republic this week with the NBA’s Basketball Without Borders program. The camp is being held at an indoor facility across the street from the outdoor court where Horford first played the game as a seven-year old. Horford pointed out the court to several others on the trip, including his University of Florida teammate and current Rockets guard Corey Brewer.
“It is very surreal,” Horford told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Tuesday. “I feel like it’s a lot. I’m taking it all in and enjoying it with my family. I would never have imagined all this when I started playing when I was seven. To imagine everything that has happened to me is hard to believe.”
Horford’s father is also taking part in the camp. Tito Horford was the first Dominican-born player to play in the NBA. He played Bucks and Bullet in his three seasons.
“It was a no-brainer when it was brought up to us to participate,” Al Horford said. “We wanted to do anything to help.”
There are 51 youth from 18 North and South American countries at the camp, which runs through Wednesday. In addition to the Horfords and Brewer, the Mavericks’ Charlie Villanueva, Hawks assistant Darvin Ham and former NBA players Luc Mbah a Moute, Francisco Garcia and Felipe Lopez are among those taking part.
This is the first Basketball Without Borders event in the Dominican Republic. Horford has taken part in four previous camps in Rome, Johannesburg, Singapore and Mexico City. This one is extra special.
“It’s really a dream come true for me to see the NBA bring Basketball Without Borders into the Dominican Republic,” Horford said. “… The reception of the people and the warmth and excitement here is unbelievable. I’m very grateful to be here.
“Giving back to the people here, they are very appreciative. They are thankful the NBA has come here. We have refurbished a couple basketball courts. We are giving clinics. The people are going to be talking about this for years to come.”