Growing up, a good portion of my summers were consumed attending basketball camps. From SEI to Damon Stoudamire to Cascade Camp and everything in between, playing basketball and meeting new people one week at a time is how I spent my summers.
In that respect, I have a lot in common with the Cotton brothers, Mason and Maxwell. We love our Trail Blazers, playing basketball and meeting new people through basketball. However, there’s one small thing that separates the Cotton brothers from myself and the rest of their peers: they’re Hollywood actors.
I’m not talking about being extras on Grimm or Leverage. I’m not even talking about starring on a reality TV show.
Mason Cotton, 10, plays Bobby Draper, the son of Don Draper, on AMC’s critically acclaimed show Mad Men. He’s also played MJ Delfino, the son of Susan and Mike Delfino, on ABC’s Emmy Award winning show Desperate Housewives. And that’s just a couple of name-drops; check out his IMDB profile for a complete filmography.
Maxwell Cotton, 12, is just as established an actor. He played Cooper Whedon for five seasons on ABC’s Brothers & Sisters. He’s acted alongside Jim Carrey in Mr. Popper’s Penguins and was Dennis from A Dennis the Menace Christmas. In 2013, Maxwell will share the big screen with Sean Penn, Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone in Gangster Squad. For Maxwell’s full filmography, click here.
Although they live in San Diego, the Cotton brothers have attended the Trail Blazers Nike Hoops Camp three of the past four summers. They have relatives they spend time with in the Portland-metro area and are a fixture at Trail Blazers Practice Facility for one week each summer.
Realizing how fortunate they are to be successful actors, the brothers’ innate goodwill towards humanity recently perked up. They wanted other kids their age to share the same camp experience they have: the camaraderie, the team-building, the games, the prizes, the top-level coaching. So Mason and Maxwell decided to sponsor ten kids from the Trail Blazers Boys & Girls Club in northeast Portland. The ten kids, a combination of boys and girls ages 8-13, were selected by the club based on behavior, grades and attitude.
The Cottons were thrilled to spend a week in Portland and show their new friends the ropes as veterans of the Trail Blazers Nike Hoops Camp.
However, as their acting careers take off, what were once leisurely summers have now been consumed with work. Soon after they devised their philanthropic plan, they realized their acting schedule conflicted with the camp.
The boys were devastated. But instead of rescinding their big-hearted offer to the Boys & Girls Club, the Cotton brothers extended their generosity even further. They decided to sponsor two additional kids (who they had previously met) to attend camp in their place.
Twelve campers, paid for by two Hollywood kid actors, ten of which they thought they’d never meet.
At the last minute, the Cotton’s manager realized their schedule allowed them to fly into Portland on the last day of camp. They arrived mid-morning on Friday and met the overwhelmingly appreciative Boys & Girls Club kids they’d sponsored. They exchanged brief pleasantries and then hit the court to do what kids do best: put their tireless enthusiasm to use going through drills, contests and scrimmages.
If only for a day, the Cotton boys plan had worked out. They were just like any other sports-loving kid growing up in the summer in Oregon: attending camp, playing basketball and making new friends. Twelve of their new friends will surely never forget the experience.
Mason, Maxwell and the Boys & Girls Club kids join Trail Blazers Community
Relations Director Ian Jaquiss and Camp Director Coach Don Elwell
Here are a few photos of the Boys & Girls Club kids at camp: