Jamal Crawford looks at wall in his old high school, and smiles.
"There I am, in my rookie year, I'm taller!" he says, as he gazes at the real size picture of him in his Chicago Bulls jersey. "I've come a long ways since then. I didn't have as many tattoos obviously."
The Rainier Beach high school grad was drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers 8th overall in 2000, and traded to Chicago the same day. It was the beginning of a well traveled 15-year NBA career, which has included a couple 6th Man of the Year awards, including this past season with the Los Angeles Clippers.
"I'm going on year 15, which is just crazy," says Crawford, as he took a stroll down memory lane, and the hallways of Rainier Beach high. He takes a turn, and heads towards the front door, adjacent to Lake Washington. "I'd go over there, and look at the water. There was a home across the water I'd always stare at, and say one day, I want to have the opportunity to afford that house. It was kind of like motivation."
He's since bought another house, and makes Seattle his home in the off-season.
"I could never live anywhere else. It's like my safe haven," says Crawford.
He's put his money where his mouth is. His name adorns the side of his old high school, after he paid to refurbish the school gym, which he said had grown unsafe. He paid thousands of dollars, for a new playground and court at Liberty Park in Renton. He also continues to finance the "Seattle Pro-Am", at Seattle Pacific University, every summer. He's brought in some of his NBA friends to play against high school, college, and former college players. In 2013, former Seattle Sonic Kevin Durant made an appearance.
"Jamal brings the NBA to us," says Doc Melton, who DJ's during the games, which have been primarily held on Saturday and Sundays. "He's just the man. I've met a lot of professional athletes, but he's the most genuine. The most genuine cat I've ever met, as far as professional athletes are concerned."
It only cost $5 a person to get in, and the Crawford says the proceeds go to local charities.
He will head back down to Los Angeles in a few weeks, for another season with the Clippers. "Myself, Ballmer of course, Spencer Hawes, CJ Wilcox, four guys with Seattle ties."
Crawford says he plans on playing 4 or 5 more years, health permitting, and will eventually retire in the Seattle area. He says he'd be interested in a front office job with the Sonics, if the NBA were to ever return.
"I'm literally living a dream," he says, "To see something grow, see people grow, and people you've helped over the way is pretty cool."
"If I'm remembered as just a basketball player, I didn't do enough. Being a basketball player is one thing, but being a better person is way more important."