When Rondae Hollis-Jefferson was at Arizona, he was always smiling. Now he’s giving back, and giving our youth reasons to smile.
In his two years in Tucson, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson became one of my Top three favorite players in Arizona history. His high intensity, lock down defense, tough play, and maturity was visible every night and that made him an instant Arizona fan favorite.
Aside from his on-the-court talent and ferocity, Rondae became a fan favorite because of his personality. You could always see him smiling and enjoying his time, and it’s not the wrong kind of having too much fun, as we far too often see from athletes. Any person can tell that Rondae truly enjoys life and everything it throws his way.
When Rondae was drafted by Portland in the first round of the 2015 NBA Draft, and then traded to the Brooklyn Nets, he knew exactly what he was going to do with his first paycheck: buy his mom a house. He did just that for an incredible birthday present. Looking out for his mother, as he often spoke about, was a top priority in his life.
His love for those around him and caring for others hasn’t stopped. Rondae continues to give back to the community, especially the youth.
As a former high school coach, I know how important is for our young people to have positive role models in their lives. Often I was looked at as a father figure, or big brother, rather than their coach. So when I saw a post about Rondae buying ice cream for neighborhood kids at Rucker Park, it really made an impact.
It impacted me to the point where I felt it was necessary to send a message to Rondae via Twitter. And much to my surprise, I got a response back!
A couple of things about our VERY short conversation… 1. Yeah, as a lifelong Arizona Wildcat fan, this was a great moment! 2. It’s incredible to see this kind of mentality from young athletes in this World!
As the initial tweet mentioned, he did buy all the kids ice cream immediately following a photo shoot he just finished. Instead of thinking about going home, relaxing, or doing something else, Rondae took the time to do a simple act of kindness that will stick with these kids for a long time.
However, Rondae’s giving ways, and striving to be a positive role model, doesn’t end with buying ice cream. Recently, Rondae held his very own C.H.A.P. Spelling Bee with the Hospital for Special Surgery at HSS Training Center, in conjunction with Reading Plus. The program promotes reading for Brooklyn, NY students in grades 3-12.
When speaking to Cory Wright, who is with the Brooklyn Nets NBA.com media, Rondae explained his reasoning: “It’s always been a part of me to give back to the community, help the kids in whatever way I can. Reading Plus does a great job of that. Education is a big focal point that kinds should understand, and they should want to do better and learn more things and learn new words and just educate themselves.”
Rondae was one of the judges during this event, as well as his mother. I can only imagine how proud she must have felt to see her son do something like this. Throughout the evening, he continued to stress how important education is, and one day they’ll thank their parents.
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C.H.A.P. is an acronym that has followed Rondae for years, which if you’ve been paying attention you know this too. Now he carries it on through a different generation, an important one, who are our future leaders. “It’s a way of life. Be Calm through everything, adversity, the trials and things you go through. Be Humble through all the praise and success you’ll get. And be Patient. Nothing happens overnight; everything takes time, and that’s why we put it on there, so kids understand that. Hopefully, one day live by it.” Hallelujah RHJ! BearDown!