COLUMBIA — DeMarre Carroll knows that one day his NBA career will come to an end. When that time comes, he has a plan.
"The ball is going to stop bouncing one day," Carroll said. "My whole thing is I want to help kids and help people. I'm a people helper."
Carroll, a crucial player on the 2008-09 Missouri men's basketball team, is in Columbia hosting a youth basketball camp this week at Father Tolton Catholic High School.
The 6-foot-8-inch small forward for the Utah Jazz made a name for himself as an energetic, tough defender in the NBA over the past two seasons, and his success has provided him an avenue to help children. In fact, more than half of the children participating in Carroll's camp are there on scholarships, DeMarre's father, Ed Carroll, said.
DeMarre Carroll's determination to aid youth isn't just a small piece of his life, but rather is something deeply rooted in his family.
"His grandmother was the mother of the community," said Ed Carroll. "No kid could go without any type of need if she knew about it."
Ed Carroll is a pharmacist in Birmingham, Ala., where he has also been a pastor for the past 16 years. Ed Carroll and his wife, Cynthia Carroll, are helping run the camp.
"I always tell (DeMarre), you're going to spend more time doing something else for the rest of your life than doing basketball," Ed Carroll said. "One day basketball will be over, so what are you going to do then?"
For DeMarre Carroll, the answer to that question is easy: help children.
"These kids tell me every day how much they appreciate me coming," DeMarre Carroll said. "It just makes me feel special, like I'm doing something cool for them."
DeMarre Carroll says he feels his life experiences have put him in a position to be a great example for children. After helping Missouri to an NCAA Tournament Elite Eight appearance during his senior season, he was drafted by the Memphis Grizzlies with the 27th overall pick. Just two years later, however, he found himself unsigned as he waited for the NBA lockout to end.
When an opportunity finally came with the Utah Jazz, DeMarre Carroll made sure he was ready to take advantage.
"Just because it didn't work out your first two or three years, you can still do some damage (in the NBA)," he said. "The biggest thing in the NBA is stick around."
DeMarre Carroll has done just that. As a free agent this offseason, he is drawing interest from a lot of teams, he said. His hustle and will to do the dirty work is what he notes as his calling card for NBA teams. This approach to his game is also the one he brings to life.
"God put me through a lot," he said. "Everything that's happened to me, even here at Missouri when I got shot, I feel like I'm a testimony to tell everybody and kids that just because somebody tells you, 'You can't do it, you can't make it,' doesn't mean you can't."
DeMarre Carroll, who was shot in the ankle while outside of Club Tropicana in downtown Columbia in July 2007, is currently pursuing a master's degree in Human Development and Family Studies through MU, something he hopes to complete over the next two summers.
Although he still has high expectations for his basketball career, DeMarre Carroll sees himself taking advantage of his education to do things beyond the game. This includes his dream of building Boys and Girls Clubs across the country, starting with places such as Columbia and his hometown, Birmingham, Ala.
"I really want to do things like this with kids," DeMarre Carroll said. "Hopefully I can build Boys and Girls Clubs throughout the world."
The DeMarre Carroll Next Level Basketball Camp started on Monday and will continue through Friday. It aims to teach youth players the fundamental of the game as well as provide lessons for their lives, Ed Carroll said.
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