HOUSTON – James Harden has been an MVP on the court for the Rockets for the past eight years. But he also has scored big off the court -- in the Houston community.
Harden has been an avid and faithful supporter of a number of community organizations and non-profits like the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Houston. For the last several years, he has hosted the J-H Town weekend where he gave away backpacks and school supplies to children whose families couldn’t afford them.
“He’s genuine and authentic and that’s what he displayed with the kids,” said Kevin Hattery, president and CEO of the local Boys Club.
Hattery said Harden’s status as a Boys Club alum helped establish the connection.
“His experience is really just a continuum. From when he was a child to where he is today in being a fantastic aspiration for many kids today,” Hattery said.
Harden’s current teammate and childhood friend Russell Westbrook -- also looking to leave the Rockets -- has also been known for his commitment to charity in the one season he’s been in Houston. The leaders of those organizations said the support of big name athletes and personalities like Westbrook and Harden goes a long way toward meeting their goals.
“That sort of impact is huge in our ability to not just to leverage what they do,” Hattery said. “But then all of the other people that then pay some more attention to us and come support us.”
If Harden and Westbrook do leave Houston for other teams, the Boys and Girls Club believes they will keep their ties with the organization here and in their new cities.