Greenwich Boys & Girls Club Executive Director Bob DeAngelo gets a lot of phone calls on any given day, but one he took during his lunch break two weeks ago was far more surprising than any ordinary call. A representative of NBA superstar LeBron James was on the line asking Bob if the club would be interested in hosting a one-hour show highlighting the two-time league MVP's free agency announcement.
"It's not often you get a phone call like that, so we obviously said yes to it," DeAngelo said. "But that was based on ultra-secrecy. That was the original game plan." DeAngelo and other club employees were forbidden from tipping anyone off about the event, but as anyone who watched the news or ESPN on July 8 could tell you, that confidentiality was soon blown out of the water. Greenwich police had to keep around 400 fans and about a dozen media outlets under control on a narrow patch of grass across the street from the Boys & Girls Club, with traffic being rerouted around the area.
"We kind of knew at one point the secrecy was going to be lost," DeAngelo said. "Then it became about safety and security. It took on a whole new aspect. But I think the Greenwich Police Department did a phenomenal job to keep it all safe."
Despite the circus-like atmosphere the announcement took on, DeAngelo said he was honored that LeBron James and ESPN chose to donate the profits of the ads that aired during the one-hour special to the Boys & Girls Club of America. DeAngelo said he was told that $2.3 million was raised for the Boys & Girls Club of America by the ESPN broadcast.
He was also glad the 50 kids that got to sit in on the set-up of the show got to meet Lebron. "For [the kids] to be part of that moment was pretty magical," DeAngelo said. "We'd like to share in some of the donation money so we can do more things for kids. I'd like our club kids to take away the message that if you want to be at the top of your game you have to work really hard at it."
In case you missed it, check out our video report of LeBron's visit to Greenwich.
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