Basketball: Former Nazareth star gives back to community
Former Nazareth basketball star Sean Pearson encourages a cheer from his students, during his basketball clinic. | Jon Langham~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 22, 2012 6:08AM
When Sean Pearson was growing up on the east side of La Grange, he never saw prolific basketball players come back to the area to mentor children.
The 1991 Nazareth graduate still managed to have a memorable career and now likes to give back to the community whenever he gets a chance.
Pearson was back in town June 9 to run a youth basketball clinic at the Community Center in La Grange.
“This is where I’m from,” Pearson said. “I know some of the kids like to play basketball, so I felt why not come back and teach them some of the fundamentals that I learned growing up to help them get better for their basketball careers. It’s the little things that they have to start learning now. It’s something I enjoy doing. I try to give the kids in the community something to look forward to doing.”
Pearson is a member of Nazareth’s Athletic Hall of Fame. He was a four-time All-Private School League selection, including being named the conference Most Valuable Player twice. He was nominated for Mr. Basketball his senior season when he earned all-state honors.
He went on to play four seasons for coach Roy Williams at the University of Kansas where was a member of the 1993 Final Four team.
“He’s great,” said Congress Park Elementary School sixth-grader Kenya Mister, who attended the clinic. “I really like him. He’s been supportive and helps us. He loves basketball and this is just a wonderful experience. Basketball is my favorite sport ever. If I get on a basketball team, this will help me a lot.”
The clinic consisted mostly of children from The Caring Place, a non-denominational, faith-based outreach effort for underprivileged children and children with special needs, started by the Rev. Shawana McGee, in 2002.
McGee enjoyed watching the kids work with Pearson, whose caring personality brought smiles to many of the participants.
“It’s real exciting for me because the kids love basketball,” said McGee, whose 10-year-old son, Nathan, who has autism, participated. “It’s good for them to learn.”
Pearson lives in Missouri and started Pearson Basketball Basics, which is a camp for children.
His trip to La Grange also gave Pearson a chance to work with his nephew, Michael Pearson.
“He’s a great person,” the 12-year-old Pearson said of his uncle. “He helps kids and he pushes me harder because he knows I can do better. He has confidence in me and sometimes I don’t have confidence in myself. He helps me get back up when I’m down. I love basketball and if I get a chance to go to a camp like this, I always try to because I want to learn new stuff and get better.”
Sean Pearson worked with the children on the fundamentals of shooting, dribbling and passing, among other areas of the game.
He still occasionally reflects back on his glory days at Nazareth and Kansas, but is mostly focused on helping youngsters improve their games.
“I think about my Nazareth career sometimes,” Pearson said. “When I speak to my family and they tell me that Nazareth is playing, I’m interested. I hope to get back and watch some games soon. I always wish them well. It’s a great part of my life that I’ll never forget.
“Anything that I’ve done with my life that has to do with basketball has turned out great. I’m just blessed to have the opportunity to come back and teach the kids some of the things I learned growing up.”