NORTH DALLAS — The Dallas Mavericks concluded another successful season of the Mavs Reading Challenge on Tuesday, with franchise legend Rolando Blackman and DJ Poizon Ivy serving as the special guests. Dozens of children showed up, decked out in bright orange Whataburger sunglasses and slap bracelets, to join the Mavs and celebrate their love for reading. 

The Mavs are proud to partner with Whataburger each year to encourage reading through fun and uplifting events and activities.

Tuesday’s Mavs Reading Challenge took place at Renner Frankford Branch Library in far North Dallas, and it was a celebratory occasion for the entire city of Dallas. 

Fans might remember that the Renner Frankford Library lost over 38,000 books after the historic winter storm ripped through Dallas in early 2021 and destroyed almost everything inside. Not only did the library lose thousands of books, but all the furniture and equipment was ruined like computers, check-out desks, furniture and upholstery.

But look at it now!

The new-look Renner Frankford Library is top notch, outfitted with specialized tables for young and old alike, along with leather chairs tucked in various corners. 

Almost all the books and DVDs are new or barely used and it’s truly a warm environment for readers of all ages. Staff members say the Mavs Reading Challenge was thrilling for them to see all the children and their parents walk through the doors with such eager anticipation. 

The Mavs Reading Challenge atmosphere was festive and uplifting, and Blackman and DJ Poizon Ivy were the perfect hosts. The duo shared how books can be a huge source of inspiration for young learners, and that was certainly the case today. 

Blackman read “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” and talked about adventure, courage and following your dreams wherever you go in life. 

Blackman, a 13-year NBA veteran who scored over 17,000 points and pulled down 3,000 rebounds, says his most significant life accomplishments were due to reading and learning. He is only one of four players to have his jersey retired by the Dallas Mavericks in the history of the franchise.

And don’t worry, even at the age of 63 (which, by the way, he had no problem sharing with the children) he kindly reminded them that age ain’t nothin’ but a number. “I can still beat many people on the court,” he said with a laugh, but also serious (and we believe him. He’s a legend for a reason).

Blackman also knows the value of books. 

After arriving in the United States at eight years old from his native Panama, Blackman spoke very little English and worked with teachers for hours before school to learn how to read and write. He understood the benefit of books from a young age, and now he hopes to inspire kids to step forward into their futures with excitement and ambition. 

“I think anytime you talk about my life, you’re talking about a life of education,” Blackman told the youth. “Reading books is a fantastic way to consume information, and you have the opportunity to travel in your mind, and you get to progress mentally. You can do so many things by simply grabbing a book, time after time after time. Lives are enhanced by reading books.”

Blackman told the kids how he grew up in Brooklyn, New York, and loved to spend time at the library. 

“Reading transformed me. As an adult, I love to read a book called ‘When Bad Things Happen To Good People,’ by Rabbi Harold Kushner,” Blackman shared. “The important fact is that it teaches you how to bounce back. You get to understand what God means to you and what religion means to you and understand that it’s a shared environment for us to come together. It’s an important piece of the puzzle to know that you’ll always be successful if you continue to push, continue to prepare, plan, persevere and execute. That’s the important thing about life — along with having fun.” 

Fun is something that Ivy Awino also understands, just like Blackman. She’s known to Dallas Mavericks fans as DJ Poizon Ivy, and she’s another pioneer in the NBA who continues to shatter glass ceilings.

Awino started as a Mavs’ ball girl and later became the first female DJ in franchise history. She continues to break barriers as a Black woman in an industry dominated by men, and she’s blossomed on the national and international scene. Awino was named to the Forbes’ 30 Under 30 Class of 2020 with other superstar athletes like Patrick Mahomes, Breanna Stewart and Paul George. She was one of 11 women selected and the only DJ. 

Awino is also the proud mother of a young daughter named Kyani, and the duo loves to read together. Mom and daughter — along with Champ and Blackman — were grateful to spend time with youth at Renner Frankford Library this afternoon.

The event concluded another outstanding Mavs Reading Challenge season, presented by Whataburger. Several players on the current roster also participated in various virtual reading timeouts throughout the season.

The Mavs Reading Challenge, presented by Whataburger, is a 40-day program designed to improve reading literacy throughout North Texas. Students between the grades of kindergarten to high school are encouraged to read for a minimum of 20 minutes per day for 40 days. 

If participants log and complete the Mavs Reading Challenge by Mar. 31, they will receive a Whataburger Certificate of Completion, a free meal coupon, and a Mavs swag bag. The top 20 young Mavs fans who read and log the most minutes during the Mavs Reading Challenge will receive two tickets to a Mavs game, while the top reader will receive a mascot visit to their classroom and other gifts and swag. 

To learn more, click here.

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