Tobias Harris is sending kids back to school with a new backpack and an important message.
Harris, a Dix Hills native who plays in the NBA for the Los Angeles Clippers, will be handing out free backpacks to students in need on Wednesday at the Yes We Can Community Center in Westbury from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. and at Hempstead Middle School from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. as part of his Back to School Backpack Giveaway.
He gave out about 500 backpacks to students in Wyandanch and Brentwood on Tuesday.
“They’re more excited to see the bags than to see me, which is always good,” Harris says with a laugh. “For them to be in that moment and feel appreciated and feel special was awesome. We wanted to give the kids some type of inspiration as they go into the new school year, to reach their goals and do the best they can.”
In addition to a free Sprayground bookbag, Harris says he wants kids to take with them a life lesson. On Tuesday, he says, he spoke to them about the importance of honesty and self-control.
Harris starred at Half Hollow Hills High School West and Long Island Lutheran before moving on to the University of Tennessee. The 26-year-old, who was asked to participate in the mini-camp for Team USA in April, averaged a career-high 18.6 points per game last season.
Earlier this month, Harris hosted his annual School of Business basketball camp on Long Island, where he teaches kids the fundamentals of the game and nutritional lessons.
“It’s my duty to give back and help the kids so later down the road they can give their time to a kid in need . . . That’s what inspires me," he says.