Alize Johnson’s gift shows he – and his heart – remember

Alize Johnson’s road to the National Basketball Association started on the hard courts at Memorial Park. Clearly, he has not forgotten.

Even better than his memory is his heart.

He announced this week his foundation will give up to $150,000 to construct two NBA-quality courts at Memorial Park, where he learned to play the game that got him a contract this season with the Indiana Pacers.

Johnson previously bought sneakers for players at his alma mater, St. John Neumann Regional Academy.

He is working on a memorandum of understanding that will secure construction of the courts at no taxpayer cost in the park where he grew up. Does it mean there will be another version of Alize Johnson playing in the NBA, representing Williamsport, some day? Maybe, but the odds are long.

What it means is that young kids will have something to take pride and immerse themselves in, knowing one of their own cares about their future. That decreases the odds they will spend their non-school time doing the stuff that destroys their future.

At a time when we worry about whether our next generation understands what it takes to succeed in this work, Alize Johnson gives us a reason to have faith and hope for the future.

To use the parlance of the day, he gets it.

He knows people helped him get where he is. He knows success is earned, not given. He knows that a big factor in how young people develop is the environment that surrounds them. Thanks, Alize, for helping create that environment.