DALLAS – As he was contemplating how he was going to spread some holiday cheer this year, at the very least Yogi Ferrell wanted to create a watershed moment for some disadvantaged kids.
So the Dallas Mavericks guard developed a very unique concept. He decided to host 15 foster care kids from Methodist Children’s Home and treat them to a special day of decorating cookies and watching a Christmas movie this past Sunday at the luxury Cirque Apartment Homes, which are located across the street from American Airlines Center.
The kids also received a tour of the Mavs’ new AAC locker room, and, in addition, were fortunate enough to play some basketball on the team’s underground practice court. It was a day that even Ferrell treasured.
“I knew I wanted to do something this Christmas,” Ferrell said. “I felt like, especially the platform that I’m on now and being in a great city like Dallas and with the way the fans come out and support us, I just wanted to give back.”
“So I decided to bake cookies with kids, watch a movie and then after that just give them a tour of the arena. I’m trying to just brighten up their day and make memories for them.”
After watching the movie, The Polar Express, and touring the Mavs’ swanky locker room, some of the kids were able to shoot some basketball with Ferrell. While calmly draining one jumper after another, Ferrell smiled and jokingly told 13-year old Nas Glasper that he (Glasper) was “about to go viral.”
Glasper’s response to the friendly trash-talking from Ferrell?
“He thought he could get me, but I was like, ‘I can’t have that happen,’ “ Glasper said. “I did pretty good for my age.”
An eighth grader at Liberty Junior High School in Richardson, Glasper summed up the four-hour experience he and his friends spent hanging out with Ferrell as life-changing.
“It inspired me to do better in basketball so I can live this kind of life,” Glasper said. “I like the court and I like the practice room. I saw where they go and change, and I think it’s pretty cool.”
Karri Luna, a child foster case worker from Methodist Children’s Home, also though it was “pretty cool” for Ferrell to reach out to help those kids who are less fortunate.
“We made some calls to our foster parents and they came through and made sure the kiddos could be here,” Luna said. “The kids were very, very excited and thrilled to be chosen to be able to come here.”
That excitement was evident as the kids interacted with Ferrell as if he was their long lost big brother.
“For the kids this is great,” Luna said. “They don’t get many opportunities to do something like this.”
“These kids just come from hard places and they’ll remember this for the rest of their lives.”
Ferrell’s father, Kevin Ferrell, said Sunday’s entire concept was nearly hatched following an over-night brain-storming session that he had with his popular son.
“We were just trying to figure out a way to kind of be a little different,” Kevin Ferrell said. “We wanted to do something that we thought might touch the hearts of the kids.”
“We wanted to have something kind of personal and I’m hoping the kids can leave with an experience like no other. Sometimes you fingerprint somebody’s brain and it stays there forever.”
Additionally, Kevin Ferrell pointed out something that didn’t go unnoticed. And that is, Yogi Ferrell – graciously listed on the Mavs’ roster as six feet tall – isn’t much taller than some of the kids he was hosting on Sunday.
“Being a small guard, and the kids are small as well, Yogi is relatable,” Kevin Ferrell said. “Maybe they can walk away with an experience and say: ‘If Yogi can do it, I can do it, too.’ “
“This is just an opportunity, and they can walk away with the experience of meeting somebody like-minded and take a good experience away with them.”
For his part, Yogi Ferrell simply wanted to use his celebrity status to influence a group of kids in a positive way. He wanted to help shape the lives of some kids who are at a disadvantage.
“This didn’t have to be extravagant and it didn’t have to have a lot of kids,” Yogi Ferrell said. “It’s all about just trying to reach individuals’ hearts.”
“I feel like something like this will teach kids to just have good character. And I feel like they’re going to want to help other people just as we’re putting on this event for them so they can go out and do good deeds in the world.”
Certainly, Luna is very appreciative of the good deed Yogi Ferrell did for a group of kids who haven’t gotten a fair shake at life. Indeed, all of their struggles were put on the backburner for four glorious hours this past Sunday – thanks to Yogi Ferrell.
“For the kids that are interacting with (Yogi), they’ll never forget this,” Luna said. “They’ll have this memory and it’ll hopefully impact them in some positive ways.”