HOUSTON — Throughout my sports media career, I have covered many events held by professional athletes off the field or court. I usually stand to the side, observe what is going on, and wait for the opportunity to interview the athlete hosting the event.
So, when a young lady rushed through the line where Rockets players Jalen Green and KJ Martin were serving Thanksgiving food at the Covenant House Texas, I was perplexed as to why.
When I found out, her explanation was that she was so excited and overwhelmed by seeing the rising NBA stars that she was about to hyperventilate.
Her first time through, Green and Martin were so involved in making sure that everyone received a plate that they were not paying attention to the young lady who later said, “Those are the first celebrities I have ever been that close to in my life.”
This young lady was so overwhelmed by meeting @JalenGreen and @kj__martin at @CovenantHouseTX
I walked with her down the line to help her get her food. She said she was just so excited to see them in person. #LightTheFuse #Sarge pic.twitter.com/KARBX50Yj9
— #SARGE (@BigSargeSportz) November 20, 2022
The second time through, they paid attention to her and let her know they were just regular people like she was. By the time she reached the end of the line where Green’s mother and sisters were located, she knew they were not there for a photo opportunity, but instead to make sure that everyone was taken care of.
“This was something I have always wanted to do, once I got this power,” Green said of giving back. “Being able to put a smile on a kid’s face and help out in any way in the community is a great thing.”
— #SARGE (@BigSargeSportz) November 19, 2022
Covenant House Texas, located in Houston, provides shelter for homeless, abused, and abandoned young people, ages 18-24.
They offer a care model for homeless youth and youth in crisis, including mental health and substance abuse counseling, educational and vocational training, transitional and permanent living programs, street outreach and prevention, pastoral ministry, and parenting classes, along with providing the basic necessities of food, clothing, medical care, and safe shelter from the streets.
“Holidays can be hard for homeless youth,” said Leslie Bourne, executive director of Covenant House Houston. “Our kids are between the ages of 18-24. They have lived on the streets and in vacant buildings. They have been in failures of the foster care system. So to see someone their age being successful, it is really a joy for them. Just seeing them (Green, Martin) taking the time to talk with them and spend time with them this evening is really special.”
This is the second year that Green has been involved in giving back to the community. Last year, Green hosted a Thanksgiving event for a group of teenagers from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Houston.
“This is home now,” Green said. “I’m planning to be in Houston for a while. Houston supports me so much, so it’s only right for me to give back and show them I support them in many ways. This is not going to be the only thing I do; I have many more things to come.”