Sunday, July 29, 2018 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews
Featured image: Proviso West alum Robert Covington, pictured in red, with participants at his third annual basketball camp. | J. Boston
Robert Covington, the Proviso West graduate who spent part of his childhood in Bellwood, hosted his third annual Allergic 2 Failure youth basketball camp at Proviso West High School last week.
But during the opening day on July 27, campers got a jolt of inspiration from two high-achievers who aren’t athletes.
Covington’s camp may have focused on basketball, but it was anchored by insights attendees could use in all facets of life, the speakers indicated.
“You can’t be too cool for your dreams,” said Patrick Walker-Reese, a motivational speaker and author, during Friday’s opening day. Walker-Reese, a friend of Covington’s, said they met while both were attending Tennessee State University.
“I’m excited about Rob not because he went to the NBA,” Walker-Reese said. “I’m excited because he represents hopes and dreams for each and every one of us.”
There are 450 people who are in the NBA, Walker-Reese said, and “two million people trying” to get there. The odds in other arenas of life are also stacked, he added.
“For each one of you guys, the stats are the same,” Walker-Reese said. “If you want to be a doctor or lawyer or surgeon there are way more reasons to fail than to make it. So repeat after me, ‘The person I want to be tomorrow, I’ve got to start being that person today.'”
Andre Harvey, the first African-American mayor of Bellwood, said that resources like Covington’s camp helped him get to where he is now.
“The only reason I’m standing before you today as mayor of Bellwood is because I failed,” Harvey said. “Sports saved my life and I hope it saves many of your lives.”
Bellwood Mayor Andre Harvey with Robert Covington’s “Allergic 2 Failure” basketball camp. | J. Boston
Harvey said that when he was young “I did a lot of stuff, breaking into things, stealing things, riding in stolen cars, had friends who used drugs, all of those things.” But his life changed when he “around 11 or 12” years old, he said.
“A police officer grabbed me, pulled me to the side, and brought me to play football in the Proviso West Junior Panther football program,” Harvey said. “From that day forward, sports saved my life. Sports taught me a lot that I know this camp will teach you. It taught me discipline and how to separate myself from others.”
Harvey said that he went on to become the first African American quarterback to play at West, along with the first black fire chief in the village, among a litany of other firsts, before his historic election as mayor last year.
Covington, 27, said that he started the camp as a way to give back to the place that gave him so much.
Robert Covington and Bellwood Mayor Andre Harvey on July 27. | J. Boston
“The first camp I went to was in my junior year of high school,” said the Proviso West graduate and Philadelphia 76ers small forward whose been in the league since 2013. “I didn’t grow up going these camps, so that’s why it means so much to me to give back.”
Echoing the two other speakers during Friday’s opener, Covington said that he wanted campers to walk away with something beyond basketball fundamentals.
“Anything is possible if you work hard for it,” he said. “Nobody thought I’d be in this position to give back to everyone who watched me grow up as a kid. So giving back and seeing all of these familiar faces is a big thing for me. That’s what really matters.” VFP
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