Charlotte Hornets forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (MKG) took 10 children to Dick’s Sporting Goods with the Partners for Parks afterschool program, each with a $100 gift card. That habit of generosity is one that he learned from his mother and one he practiced as a boy.
When MKG was a boy in New Jersey, he’d double-dip into his school lunch account to make sure a classmate got something to eat. He was taught empathy by his family and was reminded that there is always enough to share.
In the sporting goods store, MKG coaxed kids toward such necessities as shoes and clothes. If a child was attracted to an $80 pair of sneakers, he’d show them a $40 pair and asked if the difference was enough to spend most of the $100 on the more expensive pair.
MKG was formed by a strong family culture. As his mother, Cindy Richardson, told the Charlotte Observer, “That’s where it comes from: a family of service, of Christian and sympathetic people. He was raised that way, so I wouldn’t expect him to be any different.”
Richardson said she started her son doing community service when he was very young. “When he was 2, we would feed the homeless on Sunday. We adopted families for Thanksgiving and Christmas his whole life, so this is just an extension of his upbringing,” she said.
In The Tragedy of Moral Education, Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture founder James Davison Hunter contends that despite the decline of character, pockets of character-building practices survive. “This is not to say that we have seen the last of character, or the moral qualities of which it is made. It will be found, here and there, in pockets of social life—within families and communities that still, somehow, embody a moral vision.”
MKG’s family is one of those “pockets of social life . . . that still, somehow, embody a moral vision.” It leads to integrity: “That’s where I come from. That who I am as a person on the court and off the court,” says Kidd-Gilchrist.
Teachers looking to establish that kind of “pocket” of social life in their classroom or school can begin with a lesson like Make a Difference to One that teaches the basics of how to genuinely greet and welcome another person. Some years from now, those students may be able to say, “That’s where I come from.”