WILSON, North Carolina (WTVD) -- Last weekend was one to remember for dozens of young basketball fans in the Wilson area.
Not only did the boys, ages 10 to 13, get to sharpen their skills on the court. But they got to meet and hear from a pro: former UNC Tar Heel and current Detroit Piston Reggie Bullock, who put his basketball success in perspective.
"My grades allowed me to attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill," Bullock told the 63 boys, who listened intently to the 6' 7" star athlete. "Without them, my talent alone wouldn't have helped get me in."
Bullock was the motivational speaker at the "Hand in Mine Basketball & Backpack Skills Camp," which took place Saturday at Greenfield School in Wilson.
It was the first event for a newly-formed non-profit organization aimed at teaching young people not only athletic skills, but life skills.
"Our belief is that children are drawn to sports," said Hand in Mine President Darian Cahill. "However, they may not understand that academics and life skills are closely associated with that."
"Basically, we're promoting healthiness and physical activity for children. We're making them earn the backpack that they receive at the end of camp. We believe they have to earn everything in life," added Vice President Jeremy Jeffers,
Local businesses helped sponsor the half-day camp, which also featured information from the Wilson County Health Department on healthy eating practices and exercise.
Participants received fully-loaded backpacks at the end of the session so they can start their new school year off right.
Making school count was a point hammered home by NBA star Bullock, who told the boys solid academics and respecting adults are foundations for moving forward to bigger and better things.
"My grandmother, who taught me the importance of academics and responsibility, raised me," Bullock said. "She wouldn't allow me to play in a basketball game because I hadn't finished my chores. I had to do my homework after school and was active in church."
Jeffers says the basketball camp was just the beginning and that Hand in Mine will be sponsoring other positive events in the community in the months to come.
"We want to be real to kids. All of you are not going to make it to the NBA. A lot of them won't play collegiate basketball or any kind of collegiate sports. So you need to have a backup plan, to be able to do something else in life that you enjoy."
Want to hear more? You can get more details about Hand in Mine at this link.