By LISA CAPOBIANCO
For ESPN college basketball analyst Malcolm Huckaby, the Boys & Girls Club of Bristol Family Center was more than just a place to play sports.
A Bristol native, Huckaby’s club experience began at the Forestville unit, where staff members like Rex Hamilton taught him some of life’s greatest lessons.
“They were fair with everybody. They didn’t care [whether you were] a boy, girl, white or black. They wanted you to be fair with other kids and be respectful,” said Huckaby, who began attending the club at 7-years-old. “They knew every kid, they knew every family.”
That’s why Huckaby jumps at any opportunity he can to give back to the club. This Saturday (Oct. 29), Huckaby will lead a free Youth Basketball Clinic from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Open to children age 6 to 14, the clinic will focus on the basics of dribbling, shooting, passing, and defense to enhance fundamental basketball skills.
Although the clinic is free, donations to the club are welcome, and 100 percent of the proceeds will benefit youth programs. The event is sponsored by the Bristol Central Class of 1987.
“The Boys & Girls Club was just a great place for me, my brothers and so many other kids in Bristol,” said Huckaby, who played a variety of sports like foosball and kickball.
Huckaby said he hopes youth participating in the clinic will take away individual skills development.
“You’re going to become a better team if each one of your individual players gets better,” said Huckaby. “I try to give kids two or three things they can work on by themselves, and that’s the thing I love about basketball.”
A two-sport star in high school, Huckaby was drafted by the Houston Astros in the 1989-90 MLB Draft. Huckaby was a standout guard at Boston College, where he graduated from in 1994, and helped lead the Eagles to the NCAA Tournament’s Elite Eight.
He previously played basketball professionally in Europe for five years, and was on the Miami Heat in 1996.
“For me, the best memory is all the friendships I made,” said Huckaby, who was inducted into the Boston College Varsity Club Athletic Hall of Fame in 2004.
Currently, the vice president of investments at Capital Securities Management in the greater Boston area, Huckaby has served as an ESPN analyst since 2012.
Huckaby, who grew up on Emmett Street, could see ESPN’s headquarters from his home.
“The funny thing is, I never stepped foot into ESPN until I signed a contract with them,” said Huckaby, who ended his basketball career short due to an ankle injury. “I’m extremely blessed.”
For Huckaby, the clinic means more than just sharing his love of basketball with youth, as the event will honor Hamilton and the late Joey McGinn—two individuals who made an impact on the club.
Hamilton’s relationship with the club began when he became its program director in 1962. He stayed in that role until being named director of the Forestville unit in 1970. When the Forestville unit closed in 1987, Hamilton became the director of the Laurel Street Unit—a position he held until retiring 12 years ago.
However, Hamilton has really never retired, as his continued support of the club is a testament to his commitment to helping Bristol youth grow.
A former player of the Forestville Little League, McGinn passed away in 1999 at a young age after fighting a long and courageous battle with kidney disease. The Forestville Little League established the Joey McGinn Sportsmanship Award that same year using memorial contributions it received in McGinn’s memory.
“Joey was an inspiration to us,” said Huckaby, who also was inducted into the 2015 ACC Basketball Legends class. “I get goosebumps just thinking about honoring his legacy. There’s so many people alive he has impacted. For me, that’s what [this clinic] is about.”
For more information, visit www.bbgc.org/. To make a donation, visit www.bbgc.org/donate.
Comments? Email lcapobianco@BristolObserver.com.