Brandon Bass makes a big splash for kids
The sight of a 6 foot 8 inch NBA forward trying to stand on a paddle board in a small pool has to be a first. Boston Celtics forward Brandon Bass gingerly got on the board knees first. Then he pulled one foot under him. Still gripping the board with his hands, Bass made it to his feet. All that was left was to unfold and stand up. The oohs and ah’s of dozens of kids turned into wild cheers as Bass ever so slowly unfurled his near seven foot frame to full height. He stood tall for three seconds in all his glory to a wildly cheering crowd and was about lift his arms in glory before completely losing his balance and falling into a massive water splash that sprayed anyone with 20 feet.
Bass came up smiling, and tried again. Another splash. On the third try he was up, and saluted the crowd before being handed a paddle. Off Bass went, paddling around the pool like it was easy. After all, he IS a professional athlete.
What makes all of this remarkable is that a year ago Bass could not swim. Growing up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in a tough neighborhood, swim lessons were never in the mix. When Bass was 16 he nearly drowned in public pool when he ventured into water over his head. In 8 feet of water, he lost his grip on the side of the pool and went under. After a short panic, Bass found the edge again and resurfaced.
Bass, never went near the water again until last year, when he decided it was time to learn how to swim. He has a 6 year old son now, and Brandon Jr. likes the water around their Orlando home. Junior is into jet skiing, and going out with dad, even if the old man is wearing a life jacket was just not safe.
Surrounded by kids at the Boy’s and Girl’s Club of Boston, Bass learned to float his back, doggie paddle, do the crawl and back stroke.
Now Bass is setting the tone for others.
“I said last year at my first swimming lesson I will continue to inspire kids to learn to swim and show them that not only is it essential to learn but fun too,” Bass said.
Bass has been overcoming challenges from an early age. When he was ten years old he lost his mother Aretha when she died from a heart attack. She was 32.
“My mom introduced me to basketball, she really loved the game, she used to watch a lot,” Bass said. “I saw her love and passion for the game, I wanted to enjoy the game just like she did so when she passed, I just continued to play, later on I decided to pursue it as a career.”
As the oldest of three siblings Bass grew up quickly after he lost his mom. Along with his sister and brother, Bass lived with their father for two years before moving in with an aunt and five cousins. Throughout his life and career, Bass has made it his mantra to lead by example.
“First of all I am not a big talker and over the years hard work has paid off for me,” he said. “Being an example has paid off for me and my family, so I just wanted to continue to do that.”
The kids at the Boys and Girls Club in Dorchester, chanted his name in anticipation of his arrival yesterday. “Brandon, Brandon, Brandon,” was the serenade as he made his entrance poolside. He didn’t just wave and smile. Bass promptly removed his sweats and jumped feet first into a pool of gleeful children.
Nobody would have ever guessed the fear of water Brandon Bass had just one year ago. And probably no person is happier than Brandon Jr., who will be able to share his love of water sports with his old man- for a long time to come.