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The LSU Basketball team enjoyed its annual Christmas shopping spree with 20 boys from the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Baton Rouge on Tuesday, as Will Wade and the Tigers shopped their way around Target for an hour after practice.
It’s an annual tradition for Wade that dates back to his days as an assistant at Clemson under head coach Oliver Purnell, and it’s the second such event since taking over at LSU.
“It’s fun,” Coach Wade said. “It’s something we’ve done everywhere I’ve been. It’s a good opportunity for our team and the community to come together. A lot of our guys have come from difficult backgrounds and had some rough holidays, so it’s a chance for our guys to pay it forward and give a good holiday season to local people.”
Among the popular items for the kids were candy, Batman toys, and V-Bucks for PlayStation 4 and Fortnite.
“It was a good experience,” said freshman Darius Days. “I spent some time with my friend Jules. I just met him. Got to know him a little bit and get him some toys for Christmas.”
Junior Skylar Mays, a Baton Rouge native, said it was special to give back to a community he grew up in.
“It’s always a great opportunity to get back to those who aren’t as fortunate,” Mays said. “To see their faces and their smiles and the way they light up, it’s good for us too.”
The hardest part of the afternoon? Saying no, apparently.
“My guy went a little above budget,” said Mays. “He got a DS. But he was happy, so that’s all that matters.”
Coach Wade’s favorite part of the day was how much the shoppers bought for others.
“It’s hard for me to say no,” he laughed. “Usually if you get me, I end up paying for a lot of extra stuff on my own. The one thing that comes out is how selfless they are. They have a shopping list and usually want to buy stuff for a brother, sister, a parent before they get something for themselves.”
In addition to giving back, the LSU players also enjoyed an extra bonus: a little time off.
“It feels really good to get away from practice,” Days joked. “Meeting new people, getting to meet other kids like Jules and some of the other kids walking around, it was fun.”
(Press Release Provided by LSU Athletics)