June 21, 2009
STARKVILLE -- It wasn''t about football or basketball to Travis Outlaw, of the NBA''s Portland Trail Blazers.
It was about giving back to his hometown of Starkville.
Teaching the game of football was the emphasis for Camp Complete on Friday and Saturday at Starkville High School, and Outlaw returned to his alma mater eager to meet some of his young fans.
Even though Outlaw''s sport is basketball, he tries to never miss an opportunity to be visible in his hometown.
That''s why he didn''t hesitate to join coach Willie Gillespie''s group of volunteers for Camp Complete.
"You''ve got to respect somebody who is always going to lend a helping hand," Outlaw said. "For coach Gillespie and his staff to come out here and do this is priceless.
"It''s definitely about the youth. I feel like it''s good to take the time at a football camp for kids who love sports. It''s big if it helps keep them off the streets and keeps them occupied. It''s good that parents take time to bring their kids to these events."
During his five-year career in the NBA, Outlaw has been instrumental in assisting people in need from coast to coast.
Outlaw was the ambassador for the 2007 Trail Blazer Street Jam, which benefited the Special Olympics, and he returned to the Gulf Coast region in August 2006 to help rebuild after Hurricane Katrina. He also donated $10,000 to the local boys and girls clubs in Starkville.
Starkville has recognized the good heart of Outlaw and has given back to him as well.
The city established Travis Outlaw Day, which takes place on August 26 each year, and Starkville High School retired his No. 25 jersey at halftime of a football game in 2005.
Outlaw enjoys coming home during the offseason and doesn''t take it for granted.
"Starkville is where I got my name recognition and I''ll never forget," Outlaw said.
Outlaw has enjoyed his time in Portland and doesn''t see leaving the team any time soon.
After the Trail Blazers made it to the playoffs last season, Outlaw is hopeful that he''s on a good team that''s getting better.
"It''s still fun there," Outlaw said. "Everything is going well and we made the playoffs, but we''re still young. They still like me and see me continuing to get better."
Outlaw''s statistics last season (12.8 ppg, 4.1 rpg) in 81 games were better than his career statistics (9.6 ppg, 3.4 rpg).
Outlaw believes there remains room for improvement as Portland remains committed to his development.
After only starting six games last season, Outlaw is waiting on his opportunity to be a regular out of the gate for the Blazers.
"I''m cool with whatever the team needs, but eventually I want to start some day," Outlaw said. "I would say that I''m on track for things I want to accomplish. I feel like I''m not that far away from starting. I''ve just got to keep working hard."
Outlaw feels the love from his hometown whenever Portland comes into this region to play NBA games.
"It''s nice when I play in Memphis to see that church groups, family and friends want to come up and see me," Outlaw said. "Starkville is very supportive."
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