Even before Chicago Bulls guard Coby White played in his first NBA game, the importance of giving back to his community had been instilled in him.
It’s something he learned, in part, from Chris Paul, the Oklahoma City Thunder guard who has been like a mentor to White for not only his brilliance on the basketball court, but also his contributions to his hometown of Winston-Salem, N.C.
White feels the same commitment to Goldsboro, N.C., and it’s why he paired with Zenni Optical to donate more than 3,000 pairs of glasses that block blue light from screens to children beginning the school year in both Chicago and his hometown.
“I wouldn’t be doing my part if I wasn’t giving back,” White said during a video interview Friday. “I know I’m in Chicago, but always give back to the community at home. Like I always say, it’s a blessing for me to be in the position I’m in and to be in the platform I’m in.”
White’s donation includes about 3,500 pairs of Bulls-branded “Blokz” glasses, which are designed to protect kids’ eyes from exposure to the increased screen time that comes with remote learning. Zenni is the Bulls’ official eyewear partner and jersey sponsor, and White, Zach LaVine, Wendell Carter Jr. and Ryan Arcidiacono all serve as ambassadors for the company.
Nearly 3,000 of those pairs of glasses will go to children in Chicago Park District after-school programs, and more than 600 pairs will be donated to Eastern Wayne Middle School in Goldsboro, where White attended. The school has switched to all remote learning this fall.
White said he carries fond memories of his old middle school, where he met two of his best friends whom he still keeps in touch with, and of his math and science teachers who helped look out for him.
He returned home to North Carolina in March when the NBA season was suspended — and ultimately ended for the Bulls — and he still mentors a few young basketball players in Goldsboro, on and off the court.
“I knew that since I was around high school that if I was to make it, I’d want to give back to my community,” he said. “I’ve always looked up to Chris Paul. He gives back to Winston-Salem in so many ways, and he kind of set a platform for guys. He presented opportunities for kids who didn’t have those opportunities before.”
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