EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) It was a weekend of basketball in the barrio, the Segundo Barrio of El Paso that is, bringing back a familiar face to the Armijo Recreation Center in Downtown El Paso.
The regular volunteer was former New Mexico State basketball player Shawn Harrington (1995-96). Harrington was shot and became paralyzed from the waist down due to a case of mistaken identity while taking his daughter to school in Chicago. This was Harrington’s third year returning to the camp as a volunteer.
Basketball in the Barrio director, Rus Bradburd, also former New Mexico State assistant basketball coach and author, has been advocating for Harrington since 2014.
“Shawn has been a great influence in basketball in the barrio the kids love him he sort of has a magnetic personality,” Bradburd said.
Harrington is the subject of Bradburd’s novel “All the Dreams We’ve Dreamed,” which portrays the severity of gun violence in his and Harrington’s hometown of Chicago.
“It’s been good for him too to see you know he understands that basketball can be a tool basketball has always been at the forefront of social justice in America,” Bradburd said.
For Harrington, he said having the opportunity to introduce the game of basketball to children from the Segundo Barrio means just as much to him as it does to the kids and the community.
“To get to come down here and just working with kids, everything I do I revolve my work around kids so getting a chance to come back and put a smile to some kids face,” Harrington said.
He added that the camp was therapeutic for him and a way to help him heal.
“I had a life-altering experience but the fact that I get to work with kids and bring a smile on kids faces is what does it for me,” Harrington said.
As a former NM State basketball player, Harrington said it is important to give back to the Borderland community any chance he can.
“I truly believe it takes a village to raise the children and it’s all about love and support and respecting each other and together that gets the community a long way,” Harrington said.
Although Harrington resides in Chicago, he tries to visit the Borderland as often as possible, especially for community-engaging events such as Basketball in the Barrio.
For the 27th year in a row, the Basketball in the Barrio camp was held over the weekend for kids ages 6 to 10. The camp was priced at just $1 and incorporated music, dance and arts activities in addition to basketball.
It formed in 1992 and since then has turned into a cultural event that the entire community looks forward to each year.
The camp always brings in special guests, this year’s was former U.S. Secretary of Education in Barack Obama’s administration, Arne Duncan.