Camp deepens ties to Charlottesville for Ty Jerome
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 SPORTS) -- There are no easy shots at the Ty Jerome Basketball Camp, but the smiles are effortless, especially for founder Oklahoma City Thunder guard Ty Jerome.
"Similar to them, the joy of being a little kid again," Jerome said, "Seeing all their smiles and all that stuff is super fun."
More than a hundred kids packed into Charlottesville High School, some from more than two hours away, not for the NBA player, but the former UVA guard who helped bring home the 2019 NCAA Championship to Virginia.
"He's in there and he's playing with them and a lot of these kids see him as the UVA national champion," Dr1ven Training founder Damin Altizer said, "They don't care if he's playing with the Thunder or what's going on in the NBA, they just remember seeing him at JPJ and then having the opportunity to play one-on-one with him, do a shooting contest, you can just tell it's making their summer."
Jerome's second annual camp has nearly doubled in size and could continue to grow in the future by adding extra weeks with help from Dr1ven Training and former UVA teammates like Grant Kersey.
This year also has a family feel with his brother Kobe, a former Blue Ridge standout and current UC Riverside guard, and younger sister Maya.
"My whole family came, my little sister, she's seven, she's doing the camp this year," Ty said, "Last night we were in the house and she's dribbling a basketball and I'm trying to tell her to stop, that means she's having a lot of fun at camp."
After a grinding NBA season, Jerome says he has not spent much time back home in New York, but his family has come to him this week. This week as a counselor at the camp, younger brother Kobe is reminded of the journey he has watched his NBA brother travel.
"It inspires me," Kobe said, "Growing up we used to go to camps like this all the time together and now I get to see him run the camp himself and I get to work with him. It makes me so happy to understand where he's come."
From a freshman in 2016 to a national champion, Jerome has grown as a player in Charlottesville and this camp presents a chance to further grow his ties to the city.
"His investment in the Charlottesville community beyond obviously when he was a player, coming back every summer, doing this, making sure that any kid that wants to come can come," Altizer said, "It speaks to who he is as a human being and I firmly believe a lot of success he has on the court is because who he is off it."
Jerome says the coaching staff at UVA and current players keep him connected to the Cavaliers, but the community keeps him coming back to his home away from home.
"I don't usually take a lot of time to reflect because it's usually constantly onto the next goal or just trying to keep getting better, day-by-day, but when I do reflect it's kind of like a dream come true thinking about coming to Charlottesville," Jerome said, "Thinking about the group I came in, everything we did is pretty cool and the relationship we built with the community. It's awesome, this is a second home for me."