A true champion

BY DEXTER MCCREE, Feature Writer

ST. PETERSBURG — The 2015 NBA Championship Trophy arrived for a brief visit last Sat., Sept. 19 at Childs Recreation Center, the hometown of Golden State Warriors’ player Marreese Speights. Hundreds of fans showed up to get a glimpse of the two-foot, 14-pound trophy and take pictures with it and Speights.

It wasn’t by happenstance that Speights chose to return to the Childs Park area. He was accompanied by his family, friends, pastor and other supporters including city officials and aspiring youth.

St. Petersburg native and Warriors’ center/ power forward, Speights is a former standout athlete at Gibbs High School, Admiral Farragut Academy and the Florida Gators from 2006 to 2008. He is also one of only 41 players to have won both a college basketball national championship and an NBA Championship.

“Marreese and my other children were able to go to Childs Park camp every year and it was good for him. The Childs Park community helped me when my children were young and we needed help. They loved on us and took them on trips that we couldn’t afford to take them on. I’ll never forget that. That’s why his first camp after he was in the NBA was held at Childs Park and even this event,” said Marreese’s mother, Regina Glenn-Speights.

Marreese is proud of his old stomping grounds. He never dreamed that he would be in a position to give back to a community that had given him and his family so much.

“I felt that it was important to show the people who have helped me and the kids who may be inspired, something that they had not seen before. It’s not often that someone from our neighborhood will see an NBA Championship Trophy. I owe the people in my life who believed in me and encouraged me some give back,” said Marreese.

He feels growing up in the Childs Park area helped contribute to his success.

“I had people around me that made sure that I didn’t get into trouble. My mom, brothers, sisters and friends looked out for me because they saw something in me,” said Marreese. “They saw the potential that I had for a good future. That’s why I’m here now because I want to say to someone that you have potential and you have a future, and don’t let the streets mess up what might be possible.”

Marreese has started a non-profit organization that will further his charitable work. They will have events and activities that will promote safety and inspire the youth.

“I’m thankful that people continue to support me. I am excited about our community and the people who come together even just to see a trophy,” he finished.

The Larry O’Brien NBA Championship Trophy, awarded in June to the 2015 NBA Champion Golden State Warriors, is made of sterling silver with a 24-karat gold overlay and features a nine inch basketball at the top, weighing 14.5 pounds. The basketball is about the same size as an NBA regulation ball, and is valued at $13,500. Manufactured by Tiffany & Co. each year, the winning teams maintain permanent possession of the trophy after it completes a tour of each player’s hometown.

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