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Kenny Smith

As the summer heats up, community members are able to enjoy a little fun on their new and improved basketball courts thanks to Kenny “The Jet” Smith and his reFRESH initiative with Coors Light.

The Inside The NBA analyst and former athlete partnered with Coors Light and the New York Urban League Young Professionals to help rebuild embattled basketball courts in all five boroughs of New York City. In February, Smith teamed up with the Coors Light  program to restore 11 community basketball courts, including the one he played at as a youth in Queens.

With the help of Smith and the hashtags #fullcourtreFRESH and #over21, Coors Light made donations for basketball courts all over the country. To Smith and Chadwick Roberson (New York Urban League Young Professionals President), the idea of a clean court does more than bring basketball to a community.

In an interview with Global Grind, Smith talks more about his connection to the cause, what he thinks about 2015 so far, and the emotional speeches made during this year’s ESPY awards. 

On how he got involved with the New York Urban League Young Professionals:

“I just think that it’s important to have a centerpiece to a lot of communities,” he said. “It’s normally never used for just basketball. If it looks good, you’ll feel good about your community. Overall, we’ve been getting a great response from the project with people tweeting the hashtags, so it’s been great to go from 3 courts to rebuilding 11; [We’re] hoping to get to 22 next year! Everyone sees the value of it. It’s an instructive value, as well as an aesthetic value in both ways.”

Kenny Smith

On how community activism has played a big role in 2015: 

“2015…. I haven’t heard of a bad year,” he said. “There’s already lessons to be learned and more to be gained. Some awareness has been brought out to things that people had to see. Of course, some people had to be sacrificial in that, but there are antennas in people’s minds awakened now and they’re not allowing things to get past them anymore. There’s bad things that go on every year – it’s all about the perspective that you look at it.”

Why he questioned Caitlyn Jenner’s Author Ashe “Courage” Award at the 2015 ESPYs:

“[The show] was good! Lauren Hill was incredible, Danielle Green was an incredible story and of course, there’s Caitlyn Jenner. I was interested to see what was going to happen with that. I don’t see it as ‘courage’ like people do. I thought it was more inclusiveness–what sports is trying to say is that no matter who you are: male, female, gay straight, etc., you’re included and your performance dictates who you are. I saw that, but I didn’t see courage. Everyone looks at it different.”

Why people like LeBron James should be celebrated like Jenner for speaking on issues:

“[Other athletes than Jenner] certainly have. Muhammad Ali was the biggest that’s ever done. LeBron is out here doing charities and making statements (referring to his homage to Eric Garner by wearing “I Can’t Breathe” t-shirts during a game last year), but it’s all about who you are and how you use your voice. Not everyone can do it like Muhammad Ali. Not everyone has that personality.”

To learn more about the New York Urban League Young Professionals and the Full Court Refresh project, check them out here and here.

PHOTO CREDIT: Stephanie Diani/AP Images for Coors Light

Kenny Smith Talks Full Court reFRESH NYC, Shares Thoughts On Caitlyn Jenner, Community Outreach, & More  was originally published on