Olympic basketball player tells young people in Hackney how he slam dunked his way to success

NBA Basketball star Steve Smith with behaviour manager & amateur boxer Jermaine Williams (l) and Lan

NBA Basketball star Steve Smith with behaviour manager & amateur boxer Jermaine Williams (l) and Lanre Alafe, 14, (r) at the Hackney Boxing Academy - Credit: Archant

An Olympic winning basketball player told how he slam dunked his way to success in Hackney on Wednesday.

Steve Smith, who won a gold medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympics and played for National Basketball Association (NBA) teams Miami Heat and Atlanta Hawks during his 14-year career, spoke to 30 young people at The Boxing Academy in Hackney Grove.

He said: “During my first trip to London, it’s a great opportunity to share my passion for basketball with these young people. Having played with some of the best players in the world – including Michael Jordan, LeBron James and Kobe Bryant – I was able to tell them to make the most of the new year by having clear goals, sticking to their principles and being themselves. We’re each the author of our own life story. Basketball was my beginning, so I wanted them to walk away knowing the future is in their hands.”

Lanre Alafe, 14, who attended the event, said: “It was great to have someone as famous as Steve to come down and see us. He told us to write down everything that we want to achieve, use it as a checklist and support each other.”

The Boxing Academy provides an alternative to mainstream school combining basic education and mentoring with the discipline and culture of boxing and other sports training. It focuses on basketball in the summer months.

The event was organised by software company SAP, and supported by The Prince’s Trust xl club initiative which support young people aged 13 to 19 who are at risk of truanting or underachieving at school.

The Prince’s Trust worked with 292 disadvantaged young people Hackney last year.

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