ORLANDO – Basketball, as you probably already know just by following the NBA, is a game played across the globe. No matter where you live, there’s likely a basketball hoop nearby. Some don’t have to travel very far if they have one in their driveway, backyard, or along the curb. Others prefer a more traditional basketball setting in a gymnasium with hardwood floors and the air conditioning cranked up. Then there are those who love the park vibes and playing under sunny skies on outdoor surfaces such as concrete or asphalt.
For someone like Devin Cannady, who eats, drinks and sleeps basketball, he’s just happy to play regardless. But, when he reflects on his basketball journey and what it took for him to make it to the NBA, what pops into his mind, first and foremost, are the hours he spent working on his game on the outdoor courts near where he grew up in Mishawaka, Indiana.
“Basketball is a universal game,” he said. “I think basketball can change lives. For me, I grew up playing on a court just like this. Mine had a lot more cracks in it, so I’m actually renovating one back home myself.
Coming from where I come from in Indiana, basketball was my life. Coming to a court – not even a gym with AC – but being outside at a court in your hometown community, that really is your first introduction, your first love for the game.”
Those courts did wonders for Cannady’s basketball development. Not just that, though, they were therapeutic for him. Just hanging around those courts gave him all the confidence in the world to shoot for the stars – literally and figuratively.
With those memories still fresh in his mind, Cannady was elated on Wednesday to help the Orlando Magic and AdventHealth unveil a newly refurbished outdoor basketball court at the Callahan Neighborhood Center in Parramore just down the road from the Amway Center. This was the second of 20 courts the Magic and AdventHealth plan to refurbish in the Central Florida area with the first one completed back in August at Wicklow Elementary.
Not only did he help inspire the 50 kids who attended the celebration by sharing with them some heartening stories about his basketball journey, including how he refused to let the ankle injury he suffered over a year ago knock him down, but the 26-year-old, along with Community Ambassadors Nick Anderson and Bo Outlaw and coaches from The National Basketball Academy (TNBA), also showed them some basketball moves during a post-ceremony clinic on the new court.
“What I would like for them to have, and what they will have, is a place to have fun, a place to be safe, to grow relationships, (and) hopefully to chase their dreams,” he said. “That’s what a court like this was for me when I was their age.”
The inside of the Callahan Neighborhood Center got a makeover as well, as the Magic and AdventHealth unveiled a new game room complete with video game stations, study tables, foosball tables, an electric gaming table, a mural, and new sets of board games. They also surprised the center with $2,000 in sports and activity equipment and handed out Magic basketballs to each of the children.
Wednesday’s celebration was dear to Orlando District 5 Commissioner Regina Hill’s heart, as she grew up in the Parramore area and spent much of her childhood playing on this same basketball court. Grateful to the Magic and AdventHealth, she’s confident that these renovations are going to make an enormous impact on so many kids in this community.
“To see our children being able to utilize this court once again, especially after COVID when there was so much isolation, and be able to go into the game room and see new gaming systems and foosball tables and just reconnect them with their friends in the summer is quite humbling,” she said.
Making all this ‘magic’ happen are community partnerships like the one between the Magic and AdventHealth. Both care deeply about their local community and together they go above and beyond to help children realize their full potential.
“We’ve had a thirty-year partnership with the Magic and we couldn’t be more proud of what we’re able to do together in the community, and events like today represent an opportunity to make a difference in the health of kids and the health of communities – and that’s part of our mission,” AdventHealth Central Division President and CEO Brian Adams said.
As original Champion of the Community partners, AdventHealth has been working with the Magic on community projects that impact and benefit Central Florida. Magic “Champion of the Community” partners represent organizations that are committed to improving the lives of all Central Floridians. Since the Magic and AdventHealth partnership began in back in 1989, they continue to grow their approach in community programming, unparalleled branding and category exclusivity in the area of healthcare while expanding their commitment to the local community.
In addition to their work in the community, construction is nearly complete on the new AdventHealth Training Center and medical complex. The $70 million facility marks the latest investment in the Parramore community and is slated to open in 2022. Together, AdventHealth and the Magic are building an innovative health and wellness model that brings whole-person medicine, science and research together to optimize sports performance, and then bring those learnings to the broader community.
“What’s great is our core values are the same. What AdventHealth believes in, we believe in – giving back, community,” Magic President of Business Operations Charlie Freeman said. “That’s what’s so great. They’ve been with us from day one. Coming to do these things to now putting in another flag in the Parramore area with the training center – we’re just really excited.”