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Team LeBron for the Win!

As Anthony Davis prepared to take two free throws at the end of NBA All-Star Game on Sunday night, there was so much on the line. A victory for Team LeBron. $400,000 for Chicago Scholars. The hopes of our 200 Scholars and staff in attendance.

With the score 156-154, Anthony Davis needed to make just one of his two shots to win the game. At the United Center, our Scholars were on their feet—too excited and too nervous to sit in their seats. When his first shot bounced off the rim and didn’t go in, they gasped. When his second shot was in the air, they held their breaths. And when it went in, our Scholars erupted and rushed onto the court to celebrate with Team LeBron. You can see the final moments of the game here.

We still don’t have the words to describe how full our hearts are after this weekend. Not only did Chicago Scholars win $400,000 to further support Chicago’s best and brightest young leaders—our Scholars were at the center of all of the NBA-All Star celebrations in Chicago. Our Scholars went to the Rising Stars Game on Friday night. They OOHed and AAHed at the Slam Dunk Contest. They had front row seats to the All-Star Game on Sunday. They got high-fives from Chance the Rapper. And 14 of our Scholar Ambassadors even got to meet Team LeBron, as they walked—and in some cases, danced—with the players onto the court at NBA All-Star Practice.

You can see all of those intros from NBA All-Star Practice below. A clip of Sylvia, a Chicago Scholar from Whitney Young Magnet High School, even went viral as she and Kawhi Leonard showed off some dance moves. “I was very nervous to meet him,” says Sylvia of Kawhi Leonard. “I am an avid dancer, and I always preach how everyone should try it. It was cool seeing that he enjoyed himself.”

The fact that the often-stoic Kawhi had fun was not lost on Reggie Miller, who was announcing the broadcast. He exclaimed, “THERE IS A SMILE ON KAWHI LEONARD EVERYONE!”

The good news from this weekend doesn’t stop there. Larry, a Chicago Scholar from King College Prep High School, performed as part of the marching band during Chance the Rapper’s halftime performance. “It was like a dream come true,” Larry says. “I was able to pursue my passion at another level.”

We share Larry’s sentiment—the entire weekend was like a dream come true. We are overwhelmed at the generosity we’ve received from the NBA, NBA Cares, Team LeBron, and all of our Chicago Scholars family. We also can’t believe all of the love we’ve received on social media and in the news.

The $400,000 donation from the NBA and NBA Cares will be used to further develop our career and leadership development resources and opportunities for our Scholars and Alums. It is our goal that every one of our Scholars is empowered to land their dream job and launch their career after college graduation. It’s by making sure they have more opportunities for meaningful internships, developing crucial soft skills, attending professional conferences and workshops, and networking that we can ensure they truly become Chicago’s next generation of leaders.

And this weekend, you could see our Scholars already starting to think beyond college. Eddie, a Chicago Scholar from Curie Metro High School, says meeting Team LeBron affirmed and inspired his vision for his future. He’s always wanted to give back, and he knows now that he wants to pursue a career in corporate social responsibility. “I want to say thank you to the NBA and NBA Cares for making this past weekend possible. I want to major in marketing and eventually end up in a social responsibility role to give back to my community,” Eddie says. “This weekend allowed me to see firsthand the positive impact that community involvement has on young adults’ lives.”

It’s by continuing to build our career and leadership development programming that we can make sure Scholars like Eddie have everything they need to get there.

If you are interested in making a donation and being an All-Star for our Scholars, click here.