Former Los Angeles Laker Jordan Hill makes trip Lodge Grass

Thursday, October 3, 2019
Former Los Angeles Laker Jordan Hill makes trip Lodge Grass

Photo by Rusty LaFrance

Jordan Hill, former Los Angeles Laker, learns to round dance with students. Hill spent an afternoon with students at Lodge Grass Schools during Native American Week.

Former Los Angeles Laker Jordan Hill makes trip Lodge Grass

Photo coutesy of Kallie Black Eagle

Lodge Grass second grader Blake Dust, 7, poses with former Los Angeles Laker Jordan Hill during Hill’s visit to Lodge Grass last week.

Anthony Brown, a junior at Lodge Grass High School, got his opportunity to go head to head on the court against a bonafide professional basketball player, and he did not disappoint.

Former Los Angeles Laker Jordan Hill stopped by LGHS last Thursday to address students and take part in the Native American Week celebration.

“You know, the kids were clearly excited, but seemed to have their ‘guards’ up, as most native kids do,” said Lodge Grass Head Basketball Coach Josh Stewart, “but once Anthony Brown, one of our junior guards, played him one-on-one and basically took him to school, they all went crazy.”

Initially, the students were shy and reserved, but Brown’s performance against one of the big leaguers brought smiles to their faces.

“Once the kids let their guards down, Jordan Hill let his guard down too, and it was all love and bonding from that moment,” Stewart said.

Hill had a big smile on his face as he sat with the students in the bleachers and interacted with them as though it were totally normal for a professional athlete to hang out in Lodge Grass. He also danced with them, carried some young ones, and hugged a several of them.

“I really didn’t have a childhood,” Hill told reporters. “I’m having a my childhood now. Being around the kids (is) bringing out the kid in me.”

Hill played college basketball for the Arizona Wildcats. In 2009, he was drafted eighth overall by the New York Knicks.

“He talked about the importance of family, and that it is absolutely okay to chase your dreams, no matter how big they are, and no matter what the odds are,” said Stewart.

He went on to talk about growing up in a small town and his career, which started later than some would assume.

“He didn’t play basketball until the 12th grade and came out of a very small town in South Carolina,” Stewart said. “He touched on being resilient, knowing how to bounce back when life knocks you down.”

Hill told students of the adversity he had overcome as a child and tragic family deaths that took place while he was in the NBA. He went on to explain how his love for his family and the need to be with them during their grief took him out of the pros. Hill mentioned the importance of being dedicated at home, and then the classroom, before the basketball court, and success takes dedication and hard work said Stewart.

“I believe his words will remain in the hearts and minds of our students for a very long time.” Stewart said. “It’s not every day that you get someone of his caliber, who has played at the highest level with some of the best players in the world.”

Towards the end of his visit Hill was invited by a female student to partake in a push dance, a Crow-style version of a Fox Trot, which is traditionally a lady’s choice.

Hills’ fiancé, Sheena Bryant, was asked by a male student to dance around the gym floor as drummers filled the air with lyrics in the Crow language.

“It wasn’t that he was just an NBA player. He was human. He had struggles; he suffered family loss and had many other set backs,” Stewart said. “But he shared, that day, that you giving up should never be an option – you stay in the game and keep fight; keep working; and keep chasing your dreams.”

Immediately following the push dance was a round dance, which is performed as a friendship dance, especially in the company of visitors.

Hill then took the time to meet one special student, Blake Dust.

“I particularly liked it when he took notice of Blake, one of our special needs kids, and made special time for him, leaning down to his level and sharing good words to him, then signed a basketball and gave it to him,” Stewart said. “I think that warmed everybody’s hearts that day.”

Dust’s mother, Kallie Black Eagle, was in attendence during Hill’s visit.

“I thought it was cool to have (Hill) acknowledge Blake and give him a ball.” Black Eagle said. “It was really nice for him to be nice to my baby.”


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