Olympic Gold Medalist makes dreams come true for 10 lucky youngsters
North Las Vegas, NV (Sept. 3, 2008) – On a day when the temperature hit 77 degrees in Carlsbad, Calif., the hottest action by far could be found on a uniquely decorated basketball court at the Upper Deck Company’s front parking lot. Fresh off his trip home from Beijing, China, Olympic Gold Medalist LeBron James – who doubles as one of the company’s exclusive basketball spokesmen – was on hand Tuesday to conduct a special hoops clinic for ten lucky youngsters from across the country. The significance of the hands-on tutorial was not lost on any of the participants or the teacher himself.
“It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I’ll never forget,” said 13-year-old Mark Detrow of San Diego. “I’ve wanted to do something like this my entire life. And LeBron is by far my most favorite athlete in the world.”
Added James: “It’s great to get out and have fun with the kids. This is like a dream for them, so for me to be able to fulfill that dream and be out here and have fun with them is an unbelievable feeling for myself.”
The means by which the 10 youngsters, ages six to 16, secured their spots at the clinic was a test of patience and extraordinary luck. On cards packaged inside retail packs of its 2007-08 Upper Deck Series 1 Basketball and SP Basketball products, Upper Deck provided special codes that kids could enter online for a chance to win a spot in the clinic. The contest ran from Oct. 22, 2007 through April 1, 2008. Out of more than 300,000 online registrations, three of yesterday’s participants were randomly selected: Benjamin Fox, 14, of New Haven, Indiana; Alex Gonzales, 16, of Fresno, Calif; and Brandon Noe, 14, of Escondido, CA.
The remaining participants earned their way via a variety of ways. Six-year-old Shemarcus Meriweather of Memphis, Tennessee, standing just 3’ 2” tall, came to Upper Deck by way of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Shemarcus has sickle-cell anemia and his wish was to meet LeBron James. Not only did Meriweather meet LeBron, but he played him and beat him in an abbreviated game of “H-O-R-S-E” called “L-B-J.” LeBron even assisted Shemarcus on his game-winning shot: a slam-dunk!
Three of the kids were given the opportunity to shoot hoops with LeBron by winning radio contests staged by local stations: 570-AM KLAC (Travis Gamboa, 14, of Beaumont, CA); 1090-AM Sports Radio (Mercedes Mercado, 13, of San Diego); and STAR-94.1 FM (Detrow). Two of the children were selected via raffle drawings from Upper Deck’s Retail Store in Huntington Beach: Dylan Sorce, 8, of Fountain Valley, CA, and Hayden Burke, 10, of Cypress, CA. The final entry was earned by 10-year-old Jordan Garcia of San Marcos, CA. Garcia submitted the winning video entry in a contest sponsored by Upper Deck to all of its employees.
Once LeBron was finished with the clinic, he got back to work signing autograph trading cards and memorabilia for upcoming Upper Deck product launches. To catch a glimpse of some of the LeBron James items currently available, please visit http://store.upperdeck.com/lebron.
About Upper Deck
Founded in 1988, Upper Deck is a global sports and entertainment-publishing company that delivers a robust portfolio of products for sports and entertainment collectors alike. For more information, visit www.upperdeck.com or www.upperdeckstore.com.