No Ceiling: Don't Expect Too Little of Brandon Roy Print
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No Ceiling: Don't Expect Too Little of Brandon Roy
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Now in his second season, Roy leads the Blazers in points, assists and steals, and has taken part in his first All-Star Game appearance. After a rough start, the team went on a winning binge and vaulted from 5-and-12 into playoff contention. Along the way, Roy performed a bit of aerial hocus-pocus that may finally have displaced the dunk on Seamus Boxley as his career highlight. Starting at the top of the key, he shook off one Toronto Raptor with a crossover dribble, blew by another and rose for a layup, only to encounter the flying 6-foot,10-inch frame of all-star forward Chris Bosh. In a move reminiscent of Michael Jordan, Roy switched the ball in midair from his right hand to his left and flipped in a feather-touch layup as Bosh sailed irrelevantly out of the picture. It wasn’t a dunk, but it did end up as the “Amazing Play of the Month” on NBA.com. Not surprisingly, the Trail Blazers Campus Store reports that Roy’s jersey is their number-one seller.
 
Best of all, Roy is the face of the new Blazers—modest, likeable, a winner on and off the court. Gone are the days when the team’s marquee players seemed to turn up on the police blotter as often as they did on “Plays of the Week.” “I’m staying humble,” Roy has said. “There will be no tattoos. I don’t want things like gold chains. I’ve got an image I want to keep.”

Brandon RoyHe has been highly visible in the community, volunteering for Big Brothers Big Sisters, serving as a crossing guard for a local elementary school and laying the groundwork for the Brandon Roy Foundation, which will help kids with learning disabilities. Roy calls it a tribute to his brother Ed. “To know how much it would’ve meant to him just to set foot on a college campus—it makes me sad, I think, more than him,” Roy says. “He’s grown up from it, but it’s like I can’t let it go. Because I feel like maybe he was cheated a little bit. And I don’t want to let that happen to any other kids.”
 
Roy has also made public his determination to finish his UW degree in American ethnic studies—not so much for his own sake as to set the right example for Brandon Jr., a son born last year to Roy and his longtime girlfriend Tiana Bardwell. He’s just a few credits shy, and hopes to pick them up during the off-season. “That’s extremely high on his list of priorities,” Allen says. “Brandon really looks at things on a grand scale. His son might not want to grow up and play basketball, and he’s got to know that there are other ways to succeed.”

And so the secret is finally out, and Roy, for the first time in his life, does not have the option of exceeding everyone’s expectations. They’re too high. But Roy says he has no problem with that. After all, he has been part of one basketball program’s renaissance already—the UW’s. And as for being a role model, “I welcome that side just as much as the basketball side,” he says. “Because, you know, in college, Coach Romar not only demanded that we were good on the court. He demanded the same thing off the court. So when I was drafted by Portland and I heard all the bad talk about the Trail Blazers, I wasn’t nervous at all. Because I knew that if I came here, I wouldn’t have to change the person I was off the court. I’d just have to be myself.” • Eric McHenry is the associate editor of Columns.

 

One More Assist from Brandon Roy
Brandon Roy paid for college with a basketball scholarship. Now that he’s in the NBA, he’s happily footing the tuition bills for both his sister, Jaamela, and his best friend, Cole Allen. But he realizes that not everybody has the option of being a basketball star—or a basketball star’s best friend. That’s why he decided to step forward as a spokesperson for Students First, the UW’s new scholarship program for needy students. 
 
“Being raised in the inner city, if I didn’t get a basketball scholarship, I probably wouldn’t have been able to go to a Division-I school,” Roy says. “Students First isn’t a basketball scholarship, but it is a program to help underprivileged kids get into college. And I was thinking that if I could put my voice out there for it, people might say, ‘Hey, Brandon Roy’s a part of it and it doesn’t even have to do with basketball. Maybe it’s a good thing.’”

Students First provides scholarships to undergraduate, graduate and professional students on the basis of need. It’s a matching initiative—the UW will donate 50 cents on the dollar for every contribution to Students First, large or small. Gifts of $100,000 or more become named endowments and receive matching funds on 50 percent of the principal. Smaller donations are pooled together in the Students First Matching Challenge Fund, half of which will also be matched by the University. The program was announced in late 2006 and has already raised more than $65 million in gifts, pledges and matching money.

Roy’s smiling face now appears in print and television advertisements promoting the program. And he has been making public appearances in his new role.  He’s not a man with a lot of free afternoons and evenings, but Roy says he’ll always have time for the UW—and for a program as deserving as Students First. “I just jumped at the opportunity to be a spokesperson for it.”
To learn more about Students First, visit uwfoundation.org.—Eric McHenry