Former Dunbar star puts on charity camp, reaches out to family of fallen fan


Former Dunbar High, Ohio State star and current Miami Heat guard Daequan Cook. (Photo by Nick Falzerano)

Reigning NBA 3-point champion Daequan Cook wrapped up a free, two-day
basketball camp Tuesday, June 23, at his high school alma mater Dayton Dunbar all while reaching out to the family of one of his biggest fans.

We have more from the camp.

DAYTON, Ohio – Former Dayton Dunbar
and Ohio State star basketball player Daequan Cook’s mom, Renae,
instilled in him when he was younger to “stay grounded and know where
he came from.”

Cook took those words to heart and now the Miami Heat guard is putting that advice into action. The reigning NBA three-point champion wrapped up a free, two-day basketball camp Tuesday at his high school alma mater for kids in third through 12th grade in the Dayton community.

“It’s an honor and a privilege to be a proud citizen of Dayton and to come back to my community and have this basketball camp,”
said Cook standing court side at the camp dawning a bright red Miami
Heat T-shirt. “There are a lot of kids that look up to me and I am
their role model, so I felt like this was a good opportunity to give
back to the kids that look up to me.”

Cook, who lead Dunbar to
the Division II state basketball title in 2006 and was a member of Ohio
State’s Final Four team in 2007 before entering the NBA, is taking
advantage of those chances he has had to give back to the community.

“I never really thought I would make it (to
the NBA) when I was younger knowing there are not a lot of people that
make it to the professional level,” said Cook. “Once I did and realized
I had the opportunity, I had to take advantage of it.

“Now, there is the opportunity for me to be able to come out here and be a part of these kids’ lives and help them at this basketball camp to give them an opportunity, too.”

Cook’s camp, officially named “Daequan’s Shooting Camp” was the perfect opportunity.

“I always wanted to give back, I just didn’t know how I was going to
do it,” he said. “Once I figured out how to do it, it made it a lot
easier. Basketball is something a lot of kids in Dayton like to do and it made it a lot easier.”

The camp, which featured former OSU teammate and Portland Trail Blazers center Greg Oden on Tuesday, will be an annual event.

This first year turned out real (well) and I am looking
forward to next year making it a lot bigger and a lot better for more
kids,” he said.

Basketball And Beyond

On the evening of June 13, 12-year-old DaQuan “DaDa” Sales was riding his bicycle in a West Dayton neighborhood – where Cook is from – when he was struck and killed by 25-year-old motorist Antwonne McGinnis.

McGinnis, who was driving without a license and has a fairly extensive rap sheet, was arrested three days later.

DaDa (pronounced Day-Day) idolized Cook, according to the
three-year NBA veteran, imitating Cook while he played basketball
wearing Miami Heat clothing and a replica jersey.

“That is what made
it tough for me – he acted like me when he was playing ball and just
the little things he did to try and symbolize me,” said Cook, who has
offered to pay for DaDa’s funeral and start a scholarship fund in his
name. “It has impacted me a lot and it has grounded me. It really
touched my heart.

“I feel good about trying to help out because that is what I want to do.”

Cook had an opportunity to spend about an hour with DaDa’s family on Monday, including his mother Janelle Sales, aunt Shirletta Freeman and (great-great) grandfather Garfield Sales.

The camp was held at Louise Troy Elementary on Monday.

had a good time and we reached out to each other as if I was already a
family member in their family. I told them, ‘I am part of the family,
now. They can’t get rid of me,’ ” smiled Cook.

The common bond is basketball
and Cook has used the sport to get where he is but also to inspire kids
just like DaDa that look up to him.

“Not only am I giving back to the community and doing
things of that nature, I am working out myself in the offseason,” Cook
said. “It just shows my dedication to the game of basketball and it is
also showing the kids what it takes to be on that level.”

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