He’s done something similar in cities across the country for the last 12 years.
The event was extra special because the native of Flint, Michigan, planned the extravaganza from start to finish, all on his own.
McGee played tour guide, colored with kids, shot hoops, hoisted the little ones above the rim and even dished out food in the serving line. The NBA vet intentionally made all the children feel like the superstars, and, suffice to say, every kid left the night feeling on top of the world.
It is, indeed, the most wonderful time of the year.
The youth and their mothers came from Rainbow Days in Dallas, an organization that helps families living in shelters and hotels all over Dallas.
“The kids were so excited on the way over here,” said Kelly Wierzbinski with Rainbow Days. “They didn’t know they’d get to meet JaVale, see where the Mavericks practice, or walk in the locker room. They got to see where the Mavs watch game film and even saw the hot tub. They were so excited they even put their hands in the hot tub. They were just thrilled to see people that are role models for them and JaVale is someone they can aspire to be.”
McGee’s 12th annual Thanksgiving celebration was definitely a family affair. His oldest daughter, Genevieve, stood alongside her father to serve food to the children and his longtime partner, Giselle, did arts and crafts with the kids.
McGee’s longtime manager Aloni Ford also came to Dallas for the event and to serve the children.
Dallas Mavs CEO Cynt Marshall was also on hand to participate in the festivities, smiling like a proud parent at the beautiful event McGee created.
There wasn’t a dry eye in the house as everyone gazed at the pureness of the children. It was special from start to finish.
“This event started with me wanting to give out turkeys over Thanksgiving,” McGee said. “I really just wanted to help the community and do philanthropic things. Then it just expanded to so much more. This is about helping people, being humble, putting our feet in the street, and helping out.”
When asked what touched his heart the most, the Mavs center said playing knockout with the children. He remembered how much the game of basketball can unite communities and serve as a beacon of hope.
“One of the kids is deaf, and he was in the last two spots with Champ when we played knockout,” said McGee. “Unfortunately, Champ won, and I didn’t like that. It was really great, though, and it was a cool night. I got to draw with them, and there’s a kid over there who loves art. We had some tic tac toe competitions, and we have a special memory of being out here.”
A woman named Asia attended McGee’s Thanksgiving celebration with her four children. She recently arrived in Dallas after leaving Michigan.
She was shocked to know that the player hosting the event was also from her state. She said it was a sign that her move had a purpose, and she left glowing with thankfulness.
“I am just so grateful for JaVale and the Mavs,” she said. “I am crying tears; thank you, thank you, for this night.”
At the end of the Thanksgiving party, McGee gave every child a signed jersey or shirt and posed for photographs with even the parents. All the family’s also received gift baskets courtesy of Kroger.
Everything felt right about the world Monday night in Dallas. The laughter ricocheted from the basketball courts, and the youth’s eyes sparkled with hope.
One little boy summed it up well when he boldly prayed before dinner, “Thank you, God, for this special meal. Thank you, God, for this special night.”