For once, we have a good story out of an NBA player going to prison.
Thunder center B.J. Mullens has been going regularly to an Ohio prison this summer and fall to play some pickup basketball. With the prisoners.
It’s something he has done before, playing and teaching clinics, as was explained in a fantastic ESPN story.
Mullens was born in Canal Winchester, Ohio, and grew up playing basketball around Columbus. He lived off and on with his mother and five siblings until high school before moving into his own apartment, paying his expenses by working after school and on weekends as a plumber. During his junior and senior years of high school, Mullens lived with the family of one of his best friends. In his first year there, he and the friend visited a juvenile detention center to teach basketball clinics and talk to troubled teens about making better choices — and also to play pickup games….
“I played ball at some places for juvenile kids when I was in high school and I kinda wanted to get back into it,” Mullens said.
By mid-July, he played in his first pickup game at Ross, which houses mostly level 2 and 3 prisoners — medium and “close” security, respectively….
“They play some really good basketball up here,” Mullens said.
Not everybody would do this — would basketball finally stop at those walls? — so credit to Mullens for not only doing it but also reaching out to people who otherwise society doesn’t want to see. If that is not the spirit of this time of year, I don’t know what is.