If you had a chance to be at the Lansing Sports Complex on Aug. 8, you saw what being a true pro athlete is all about.
New York Yankees outfielder Curtis Granderson gave a special camp for Lansing and Lynwood youth who did not make all-star teams. He spent a good hour talking and showing them the fundamentals of the game.
This was on his day off, a travel day, after the Yankees had been swept by the White Sox and were heading back to New York. With all the scandal surrounding baseball and teammate Alex Rodriguez receiving a suspension, then appealing it, it would have been easy for Granderson to not answer questions or even duck out.
But that is not Granderson. If you saw him go through the drills, it was like he was back in the Lynwood Little League. He was happy as the kids who now realize why you do all those drills. Granderson, who grew up in Lynwood and is a T.F. South grad, told them those were the drills he did as a youth and what Major League teams do in spring training.
The fields are getting a renovation with financial help from Granderson and his "Grand Kids Foundation." He recently donated money for a new baseball facility at Illinois-Chicago, his college alma mater. It was not only for the Flames, but for the RBI -- Reviving Baseball in the Inner-Cities.
"We have a bunch of fields and we've got to give every kid a chance to play baseball," Granderson said. "I think this is one way, with good facilities, to get the kids from Chicago more involved in baseball."
Granderson would like to see Lynwood Little League come back. He feels with his help, more kids can come out and get the league going again. That is important to him because that is where played as a youngster.
He also preached more than to getting in front of a ground ball. Lynwood's Jordan Williams said Granderson preached education as well.
"I know it is important that I get good grades," Williams said. "He told us that education is just as important."
He was also impressed with other things.
"Just to play on the same field with him and to think he donated money for the baseball field," Williams said. "It was an honor to meet him and for him to actually play baseball with us, a big-league player, that was great."
Lansing's Julio Lozano said this was something he will always remember.
"It was like a one-of-a-kind thing that he played catch with us," Lozano said. "Not a lot people can say that. He came back here and spent time with us."
Of course, Granderson has not forgotten where he came from.
And those in Lansing and Lynwood will never forget what he has done for youth in the two communities.