Professional basketball player Ron Larris returned to Gainesville from Denmark to give back to his community.
During a free basketball clinic held at the Martin Luther King Jr. Multipurpose Center on Monday night, Larris joined forces with Eastside High School basketball coaches and players to teach 46 local children how to dribble, pass and shoot.
The free clinic, organized by the City of Gainesville Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department, encourages kids ages 5 to 14 to hone their skills before joining the city’s Youth Coed Basketball League.
Not everyone who participates in the two-day clinic joins the league, however.
The next clinic will also be held at the Martin Luther King Jr. Multipurpose Center, located at 1028 NE 14th St., on Wednesday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., according to a City of Gainesville press release.
Guillermo Chacon, the city’s recreational sports leader, said one of the benefits of offering free basketball lessons to kids is that it may keep them out of trouble.
“It’s a proven statistic that kids who participate in sports are less likely to fall into the traps of society,” Chacon said.
Larris, now a trainer at Gainesville-based Nigie Hoops, said Monday was his third year participating. Since he returned from Denmark, he has spent much of his time teaching basketball to local kids.
“There’s so much that divides us,” he said. “Basketball being a universal sport, it can bring us together.”
From left: Ron Larris, a 30-year-old trainer at Nigie Hoops and former Gainesville High School basketball player, cheers “Team!” with 46 kids and some Eastside High School basketball coaches during a free basketball clinic held at the Martin Luther King Jr. Multipurpose Center on Monday night.