By Meyers Leonard, Portland Trail Blazers
Before I forget to mention it, I want to wish everybody a very happy holidays and a happy new year! I hope you’re all having a great time with your family and friends!
I’ll also tell you that I perfected “Jingle Bells” on the piano for the holidays. Anyway, because of the Blazers game schedule, I was able to fly out to spend Christmas with my girlfriend and her family in Peoria, Ill. This year, I won’t be going to my family’s house in Robinson, Ill., because there’s not enough time to go all the way home –- it’s a three-hour drive from my girlfriend’s house to mine. I’ve gotten all kinds of texts from everybody in my family saying they wish I were there and all that kind of stuff. It’s OK; I’m used to being away from home.
But my family Christmas is a lot of fun. Everybody meets up at one of the Grandma’s houses and we eat, relax, play ping-pong. Yes, ping-pong. It’s been a big family tradition for seven or eight years. We do a tournament and play what we call “Around the World.” We end up having like 20 people play, and we line up on each side of the table and hit the ball all the way down, back and forth. If you miss, you’re out. We have what we call “handicaps,” and if you get out first, you have to hold a Cinderella doll. I’m actually serious! If you win, you have to wear these crazy goggles and a hardhat. It’s hilarious! It’s the same thing every year, and it never fails to be a great time! I’ve also gotten texts from my family saying that they’re going to miss me in ping-pong.
Then New Year’s Eve is next week. We are playing the Knicks in New York on New Year’s Day, which is kind of neat. My girlfriend is going to come out, but I’m not sure what we’re going to do yet. If there’s any way possible, I’d like to see the Times Square ball drop. I know that probably sounds kind of cheesy, but it’s one of those bucket list type of things for me.
Last week we went to the St. Mary’s Home For Boys, which provides a home and different services to at-risk boys between the ages of 10 and 17. It went really well. Our whole team took a bus over there, and we surprised them. We started off doing some warm-ups. We did some layups, then their basketball team did some layups. Then we scrimmaged against each other, which was a lot of fun. We also put them through some drills. Then we presented them with a check for $50,000, and gave them bags of Trail Blazers gear, which I liked because it was really nice to give them some personal things for Christmas. They gave us ornaments and gingerbread cookies, which was very nice of them.
Two of the kids were brave enough to come out and say thank you to us. It was so heartwarming. You could tell they were really nervous to say it out loud, and that it meant a lot to them for us to be there. Those kids have been through a lot; many of them were removed from their homes for different reasons. I can’t imagine having something like that happen or being in situations like those kids have been in. And they are all very nice … I have a lot of respect for them.
The Final Rundown
That’s what’s going on with me for the holidays. When it comes to basketball, I’m doing well. There are the ups and downs, physically and mentally, but I’ve always worked hard to be the best I can be … and I will continue to do that. It can be tough, but it’s all worth it. It’s my job, and it’s what I love to do.
Thanks for reading my blog, and I’ll catch up with you again in 2013. And you can always follow me on Twitter @MeyersLeonard11. Happy holidays!
Meyers Leonard is a 7-foot-1 center from the University of Illinois. He was selected by the Trail Blazers with the 11th pick of the 2012 NBA Draft.
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