Rondo's biggest assists come off the court

Rondo's biggest assists come off the court
January 17, 2014, 11:00 am
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BOSTON — This is a story about Rajon Rondo, but we're not going to talk about him returning to the Boston Celtics for his first game this season.

We're not going to talk about whether he'll do what teammate Kris Humphries quipped about on Thursday, and that's get a triple-double tonight against the Los Angeles Lakers ... in the first half!


This is about exposing a side of the ultra-private point guard that no matter how much he may want to shun such attention, what he's doing off the court is far too important to be ignored.

The NBA agrees, which is why they have chosen the four-time All-Star as the Kia Community Assist Award winner for the month of December.

It is an award given to a player for his charitable efforts that go beyond simply showing up at an event or cutting a fat check.

Celtics fans will often see Rondo during the holiday season as an active participant in the team's various charitable endeavors.

But his giving goes much deeper than that.

He has a year-round passion for children that involves occasionally popping in to offer some encouraging words, maybe play a game of Connect Four or help a young person with math which as we know, is one of Rondo's strongest subjects.

"I firmly believe that it takes just one person to reach a child and to help turn his or her life in a positive direction,” said Rondo. “On the court, my job is to assist my teammates in making shots. Off the court, my passion is to assist at-risk youth in reaching their full potential.”

The Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (MSPCC) is among the organizations that service children that Rondo is actively involved with.

Mary McGeown, MSPCC president and CEO, is thrilled that Rondo is receiving such an honor from the NBA and Kia.

Rondo's involvement with MSPCC began in 2006, his rookie season.

"Rajon came out and spent an afternoon with our kids," McGeown told in a phone interview.

The children had put on a list that they wanted to meet a professional athlete.

After contacting Rondo, he agreed to come out and talk with the kids.

"He came and the connection was immediate and really significant," she said.

And it wasn't just the kids, either.

That initial encounter became a jumping off point for a slew of charitable endeavors on Rondo's part, most of which are geared towards servicing the many needs of at-risk children.

McGeown believes one of Rondo's strengths in relating so well with kids has been his ability to connect-the-dots between his past with their present.

"He made a connection about his own life, about making choices and really even when you mess up, sort of owning it and doing everything you can to make things right," McGeown said. "He talks a lot about the value of school and doing your best in school."

Even when he has donated money to MSPCC and others, there's often a teaching component involved.

When he took some of the MSPCC children on a shopping spree last month to purchase clothes for themselves or their family as part of a Christmas activity, they each had a budget to work from.

"They have to come up with items that fit within the budget," McGeown said. "And Rajon is there to make sure they're adding correctly, they're not over-budget. It sounds simple but it's a daily living skill. People need to know how to add up money to make sure they're living within their means."

McGeown makes no secret about being thankful for Rondo and the impact he has made on the lives of so many young people who, like Rondo, have grown in so many ways since he arrived in Boston in 2006 as a lightly regarded,  late first-round pick.

"He has made this a priority long before he became the star that he is today," McGeown said. "And I think that really does speak volumes to an individual's character. He came into this league in my opinion wanting to be the best player he can. And also wanting to give back any way that he could."