Cambridge, Eleuthera ballers visit the Orlando Magic
Former National Basketball Association (NBA) player and North Eleuthera High School basketball coach Dexter Cambridge recently led a student-athlete contingent to Orlando, Florida for a four-day trip, which included a visit to the Orlando Magic training facilities.
Having played professionally in the United States and internationally, and leading a national team at regional competitions, Cambridge continues to use his career to inspire his players that they too can pursue a professional basketball career. The trip to Orlando was the latest glimpse of what is possible for the young men.
Cambridge said it was a dream come true to give back to young Bahamians living in the Family Islands and to expose them to professional basketball players, and universities and colleges — an experience that was not allotted to him when he was growing up.
“I never had the chance growing up in the Family Islands to see anything and for these kids to go out there and see NBA players in person and NBA arenas in person, it’s a dream,” said Cambridge.
Trips like this one, he said, motivate the players through exposing them to different levels of talent and skills, especially by participating in the AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) tournaments in Orlando and watching the games of various age groups.
The team was supported by veteran coach and educator Tony Crean and chaperoned by retired police inspector Lucas Armbrister. The trip was facilitated by long-time resident of South Eleuthera William Douglass and the DeVos family as a part of the DeVos Urban Leadership Initiative, partners with the Orlando Magic franchise.
“As an advocate for youth and all things Eleuthera, I thought it was a great opportunity to support Dexter and his coaching team by exposing these young men and nurture their dreams in becoming professional athletes, obtaining college degrees and giving back to their communities, as Dexter is doing,” said Douglass.
Immediately after touching down in Orlando, the 10 players were given full access to the RDV Sportsplex, an Orlando Magic training facility. This included two days of scrimmaging and full court drills at the practice gym.
On the fourth day of the trip, Cambridge and the Eleutheran team played a friendly game against the Doris Johnson Mystic Marlins basketball team, who were also visiting the Orlando Magic facility.
The DeVos Urban Leadership Initiative aims to make a positive impact on disadvantaged, urban youth by investing in their community leaders. So, when informed that the Eleutheran team and coaching staff would be visiting Orlando, director of communications for the initiative Gerald Bell said it was an easy decision to play a role in a memorable experience.
Bell said that he was thrilled to coordinate the team’s access to the Magic’s training facilities, stating that the staff there were enthusiastic to accommodate the young men.
“Some day stories will be told from these young men of how their Orlando visit helped to shape the reality of their future in a positive way. While it will require much dedication from the team and their coaches, I am confident they will make the most of this experience as they remain on their journey of learning and growing as student-athletes,” Bell said.
The players also met Ryan DeVos, grandson of the late Richard DeVos, former Magic team owner. During an official tour of the Amway Arena, the Magic’s home gym, the team watched as the Magic and the Toronto Raptors had a warm-up shoot around prior to their playoff match-up. Just before tip-off, the Magic players spoke and took photos with the Bahamian team.
Each outfitted with Magic basketball jerseys, the young Bahamians watched the game from VIP seats behind the Magic bench. They joined the rowdy Orlando fans as the home team rallied from a 15-point. All of the young players said that the playoff game was a highlight of the trip.
Bell said: “I know how meaningful it is to young people to have rare opportunities such as holding practice in an official NBA team’s practice gym, attending an NBA playoff game, touring a major arena like the Amway Center and even having photo ops with a member of the Orlando Magic team and ownership. Those experiences can transform the mind of a young person, giving them a greater sense of confidence in their own potential and self-worth.”
As the trip came to an end, both coaches and hosts expressed a shared hope to continue to support future efforts like this one for years to come.