make it better

Dec 20

Trail Blazers Visit To St. Mary's Home For Boys Provides 'best Christmas of my life'

By make it better Posted in: Blazers, Kings, Lakers, makeitbetter, NicolasBatum, Nuggets, Suns

The relationship between the Portland Trail Blazers and St. Mary's Home For Boys goes back decades. It began when former Trail Blazers player and coach Maurice Lucas donated tens of thousands of dollars in janitorial supplies, the byproduct of one of his off court businesses, to the school. Clyde Drexler, during his Hall of Fame career in Portland, often made time to visit St. Mary's.

When Nate McMillan took over as head coach of the Trail Blazers, he made team visits to the residential facility the cornerstone of his charitable. And Terry Stotts, now Portland's head coach, continued that tradition on Dec. 19 with a scrimmage against a team of St. Mary's residents.

"The Blazers have been wonderful to St. Mary's forever," said Lynda Walker, St. Mary's director of development. "(Vice President of Community Relations) Traci Rose and her team just have embraced these kids for 25 years. This was a surprise for our boys today and they didn't know it was going to happen and you can just tell by looking around, seeing the smiles. One boy just came up and said 'This has been the best Christmas of my life.' … It means the world to these kids. One of the boys said to me 'We're all going to go to sleep happy tonight.'"

Coaches and players come and go, but the need to take time out, especially during the holiday season, for for the boys at St. Mary's remains a constant. For more than 120 years, St. Mary's has been caring for Oregon's most at-risk teens, many of whom have been subjected to unspeakable acts perpetrated by people who are supposed to care for them.

"You come to a place like St. Mary's and you know some of the backgrounds of the kids, it certainly does put things into perspective," said Stotts. "I'm glad for our players that they understand and appreciate, not only what they have, but some of the struggles that other people have."

"This one is special because when you see what has happened the last couple of days with kids," said Nicolas Batum. "You know the background of some of these kids, what they've been through. They're young! They're only teenagers and you know what they've been through already. I don't know if I could survive that. They told us some stories that are just crazy. They are strong. We've met maybe 50 kids and they're strong, stronger than any NBA player.

"You can say 'Oh, we have to practice. We have to be ready to play a game,' but those things are nothing compared to what they've been through. We can't complain."

The boys at St. Mary's are strong, but they still need plenty of help. For most of the boys, who some have labeled as "Oregon's throw away children," St. Mary's is their last chance for rehabilitation before being given up on entirely. Collectively, St. Mary's provides more than 110,000 hours of counseling which, amongst other services, has helped the school achieve an 84 percent success rate for working with the high-risk population that find themselves at the school in Beaverton.

That work will be aided by a $50,000 donation which was presented after the scrimmage and made on behalf of the make it better Foundation through generous contributions from the Ray Hickey Foundation  and the Hedinger Family Foundation.

"The Hickey Family Foundation and the Hedinger Family Foundation have been wonderful to St. Mary's, so that was a beautiful surprise," said Walker. "But I think for the boys, today will be a lifetime memory for them they will never forget. I think especially the team that got to score on the Blazers, that's something they will always remember."

(Click here for more photos from the visit to St. Mary's Home For Boys)


  1. That is a very good story. Back in the 70's I worked at St. Mary's as a cottage counselor and then as the rec director. We were looking for something to motivate the kids. I called the Hockey team, hoping to get tickets to some games. The next day I was called by Leo Marty from the Trailblazer office. He was the Trainer at the time. We set up a very good working relationship with the team. Almost every Saturday a player would come out to the home with Leo, who always had a load of socks, basketballs, shirts etc. They would take some of those who had earned the privilege for some kind of treat.

    During the season were were always given tickets to the games, and then Leo decided that we could have a ball boy for each home game. Then we were invited to play the ball boys before a game, and at half time. That was very exciting. The game was a Laker game. They used it as a means to give publicity to the home and gave us a check for 5,000 at half time.

    We had a basketball tournament at the home. In order for a team to be in the tournament they had to have a loosing record, so that the boys could compete. It was a huge success. Leo said that he would get a couple of Blazers to ref the championship game. We were waiting for them to come to the gym. One of the kids yelled, "their here!" In walked the whole blazer team, except for Sidney Wicks. Coaches and players all showed up. LaRue Martin gave a shooting exhibition which was a lot of fun. Needless to say after signing autographs, and talking to the kids we played the game, with four refs instead of two. At Christmas all of the kids and staff were given presents from the Blazers.

    I was very proud of the relationship that we developed with the Blazers. They were and are still aclass act.

    by malinoregon on 12/20/2012 4:56 PM
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