Looking through the collection of throwback jerseys on sale, DeMarcus Cousins had a moment when he felt very old.
That happened when a youngster innocently asked him who the No. 8 was who played for the Los Angeles Lakers. Cousins couldn’t help but laugh, realizing it had been more than 10 years since Kobe Bryant wore No. 8.
The only things that made Cousins happier were the smiles on the faces of the family he flew to New York for the weekend and surprised with a shopping spree at the NBA Store on Fifth Avenue.
Though he rarely seeks publicity for the community work he does, Cousins has always been active in Sacramento and his hometown of Mobile, Ala. Saturday’s shopping spree was for a family from Sacramento. Marion, who turned 14 on Thursday, and his mother, Mari, whose last names were not available, will be Cousins’ guests at Sunday’s game against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden.
“I feel it’s a responsibility,” Cousins said. “I feel I have a way of helping people and any little way, any little gesture I can, I’m all for it. Making somebody’s life easier – why wouldn’t I do it? I’m just glad I could put a smile on somebody’s face.”
Marion has attended the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Sacramento’s South Sacramento Clubhouse for four years. Over that time, his mother has overcome addiction to find a full-time job and permanent housing near the club.
Cousins said the story touched him, and he wanted to do something to show that.
“His mom is a single mom, she had an addiction, she overcame that and at the same time she raised a young boy who’s obviously turned out good,” Cousins said. “You’ve got to appreciate moms like that.”
Cousins has a commitment to helping youth, which will be discussed in an interview to air on “Good Morning America” on Monday. His basketball camp in Sacramento is free, and it’s not uncommon to catch him at a local high school basketball or football game.
Cousins has also been active in community forums in Sacramento, Los Angeles and Alabama to foster better relations between the police and the community.
Cousins also went door-to-door alongside members of local law enforcement officials in Del Paso Heights to deliver over 300 turkeys last month.
He’s also donating $5,000 to the Boys & Girls Club of South Alabama to provide Christmas gifts to youth and families.
“I know how it feels to be in their shoes,” Cousins said. “I grew up not being as fortunate and I wished I could have these things.”