SACRAMENTO -- NBA Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas spent part of his day Monday in the capital city, working to empower and inspire young people during an event at the Golden 1 Center.
About 200 young people from all over Sacramento gathered for a writing workshop and panel discussion. It was hosted by the Kings and the Build Black Coalition, which was formed after Stephon Clark was shot and killed by police officers back in March.
Thomas spoke on the panel.
"There's the poverty line then there's the line below poverty. We were the people that the census bureau didn’t count," Thomas said.
Thomas said he sees himself in the kids. He says growing up with eight siblings on the west side of Chicago the fridge was always empty. They were poor but he found a way to thrive.
"Every single day you had to wake up and find something to be happy about," Thomas said. "My mom always told me the thing that you find is yourself, be happy about you."
"To me, that was amazing, where he came from, the struggle he had," said Josiah Brown.
Brown, who lives in Oak Park, learned from Thomas that anything is possible.
"Just reach out for your dreams," Brown said.
Brown dreams of going to college. He was one of many in a crowd of dreamers, who left empowered after hearing how a superstar athlete created his own destiny.
"They say love conquers hate and love conquers all," Thomas said. "It really does and that’s what I wanted to give them today."
The students who participated in Monday’s forum were all part of the Kings and Queens Rise Basketball League, which is designed to get youth involved in sports. They also got to stick around at the Golden 1 Center during the California Classic, which got started shortly after their event ended.