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News > Harlem Globetrotter provides positive message in visit to Grand Forks AFB
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Globetrotter fun!
Harlem Globetrotter Hammer Harrison executes a basketball trick with a child at the youth center at Grand Forks Air Force Base, N.D., on April 9, 2012. Harrison came to Grand Forks AFB to motivate and educate children with the program “C.H.E.E.R. For Character” designed by the Globetrotters. This program helps children become better prepared for challenges they will face as young adults. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Amanda Grabiec)
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Harlem Globetrotter visits GFAFB to meet with youth

Posted 4/10/2012   Updated 4/11/2012 Email story   Print story


by Tim Flack
319th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

4/10/2012 - GRAND FORKS AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- Harlem Globetrotter Hammer Harrison used humor and some fancy tricks to drive home an important message for kids here during an April 9, 2012, visit.

Harrison told a gym full of kids in the Youth Center that it doesn't matter if they want to be the president of the United States, the youth of the year or the top finisher in a spelling bee: They just need to set goals and stick to them.

"Find out everything you can about your goal through research ... surround yourself with positive people who have the same goals and believe you can do it," said Harrison, who towers at 6 feet 9 inches. "If you can believe it, you can achieve it."

Harrison - who will perform with the rest of the Globetrotters on April 14, 2012, in nearby Grand Forks city - was on base to help promote the team's "C.H.E.E.R. For Character" program, which emphasizes strong character traits.

Harrison, 25, brought kids to the front of the gym to help him define each letter in the acronym, which stands for Cooperation, Healthy mind and body, Effort, Enthusiasm and Responsibility.
He peppered the talk with humor - and a few dazzling ball-handling tricks - before having each participant bend their body into the shape of the letter they were representing.

He even put Jacob Lindquist, a staff member at the Youth Center, through the paces. Harrison told Lindquist to pass the ball behind his back and through his legs before "shaking it" in a dance.

"Wait, wait, wait," Harrison quickly criticized Lindquist over the children's laughter. "You've got to put some soul into it!"

Harrison said his own childhood experiences with adversity help drive his desire to work with youth. He broke both of his legs when he was only 11, spent a month in a wheelchair and was kept out of sports for five years. When he turned 17, he grew 5 inches in a year, and realized that he wanted to use basketball as a means to move on with his life.

"It took a lot of hard work," Harrison said during an interview before the show. Countless hours of practice helped make up for the years of high school ball he had missed, and he walked on the team at Sullivan Community College, N.Y., his second year. His team went undefeated, and he was the leading scorer when they won the 2007 NJCAA Division III championship game. He also played with Hampton University, Va., where he was the leading rebounder and let his team in field goal percentage and blocked shots in the 2008-09 season.

Harrison said he feels an affinity for kids on the military bases, and the Globetrotters' coach constantly tells the team that they need to have the "mental toughness of a military person."

He also said he finds working with kids to be very rewarding. Growing up in a tough neighborhood in Brooklyn, N.Y., Harrison said he never had a chance to meet a Globetrotter or other celebrity who could help challenge him or his friends at a young age.

"Hopefully, I can leave a lasting impression on someone's life," he said. "I have the chance ... and I take full advantage of it."

Deachole Green, who watched from the stands with her son, 4-year-old Josiah, said she appreciated the message Harrison brought to the base youth.

"I like the words they were using," Green said. "They were empowering."

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