By Ida Brown / firstname.lastname@example.org
The Meridian Star
Without a doubt, retired NBA basketball player and Meridian High School standout Derrick McKey is a big attraction for Thursday's Boys and Girls Club of East Mississippi's Annual Celebration of Excellence Dinner.
But the annual fundraiser also has several other points of interest.
For starters, this year's fundraiser will celebrate 25 years of BGCEM's changing the lives of the community's youth for the better. Since its inception, the Boys and Girls Club of East Mississippi has grown from serving a small group to more than 2,000 members annually through its after-school and summer programs. The CLUB, as it is often referred, also has expanded from one to three locations in Lauderdale County: the West End Unit, Velma Young Center and Northeast Elementary.
A major fundraiser for BGCEM, this year's campaign poses the question to the community: Are you in? That is, are you in a campaign that will provide financial support for day-to-day expenditures, transportation and provisions for summer programs?
However, being "in" is not limited to money.
"We want to encourage people to be more actively and personally involved in what we are doing, and what we can do with their total support," said BGCEM Executive Director Ricky Hood.
Guest speaker Derrick McKey is one such person who has been actively and personally involved with the Boys and Girls Club of East Mississippi Although not a product of the local program, he grew up under similar circumstances of many of the CLUB's members.
"Derrick grew up in Eastern Gardens, part of a single-parent family. So, he's a great example for our kids, because we serve a lot of young people from public housing," Hood said.
"Not that all of the youth we serve can go on to be NBA players, but Derrick is such a great example in the fact that he's continued to be invested in the community through his annual basketball camp, his church contributions and to Boys and Girls Club."
McKey was a star basketball player at Meridian High School, as well as a shortstop on the baseball team. He attended the University of Alabama for three years, leading the Tide to a Regional No. 1 seed in 1986-87, and to the Sweet 16, where they were eliminated by Providence. He played for the US National Team in the 1986 FIBA World Championship, winning the gold medal.
McKey declared for the NBA after his junior season and was selected by the Seattle SuperSonics with the ninth overall pick of the 1987 NBA Draft, ahead of Reggie Miller, Horace Grant and Reggie Lewis. In the 1988-89 season, McKey averaged 15.9 PPG, his best scoring average in a season.
McKey spent the following six seasons in Seattle, where he was known as one third of the "Big Mac" team of the late 1980s and early 1990s Seattle SuperSonics, the others being Nate McMillan and Xavier McDaniel. At the start of the 1993-94 NBA season, he was traded to the Indiana Pacers along with teammate Gerald Paddio for Detlef Schrempf. After years of playoff disappointments, he and the Pacers finally reached the NBA finals in 2000, before losing to the Los Angeles Lakers. McKey then spent the 2001-02 season, the last of his career, with the Philadelphia 76ers.
Other highlights of the The Boys and Girls Clubs of East Mississippi's Annual Celebration of Excellence Dinner will be the homecoming of past alum and the announcement of the 2013 Youth of the Year.