Our first coverage of Kenny Dobbs was this past February 23rd, when we were clued in on a young Choctaw dunking phenom who had some incredible videos online. Needless to say, after one look at the video below, we needed to find out just who this guy was.
What we found out was there was much more to Kenny then dunking. He was an outspoken, candid role model for the youth of Indian Country, using his talents for good, like here, when he spoke to kids after a ceremony that celebrated the fact that Nike N7, the LA84 Foundation (LA84) and the La Jolla Band of Luiseño Indians announced that together, they dedicated a newly built outdoor basketball court on the La Jolla Reservation. We learned that Kenny had recently competed in the Amateur Slam Dunk Contest for NBA All-Star weekend. We were intrigued, to say the least.
Kenny's relationship with Nike N7, and the Native American Basketball Invitational that Nike N7 helps support, was something we wanted to learn more about. Our reporter, Jack McNeel, wrote a wonderful piece about how NABI grew from a seedling of an idea to a program that promotes American Indian basketball players from all over the country, helping attract scholarship opportunities . As Jack wrote in June, "NABI’s biggest news is signing Kenny Dobbs, called by some the number-one dunker in the world, as its newest ambassador. Dobbs is an enrolled Choctaw, although he was born and raised in Phoenix. 'Kenny has an incredible story,' Scarpa says. 'He came from [a neighborhood stricken by] gang-related activity, drug abuse and attempted suicide. His story is inspirational. Kenny is able to relate to the pressures our youth face, and they respond to him. He gives NABI a chance to go national with a powerful message. Many communities participate in our tournaments, but this gives NABI a chance to go to their communities and bring programs to them.'
We wanted to find out more about Kenny's past, and how he became a global dunking sensation and outspoken advocate for keeping Native youth out of gangs by promoting a healthy lifestyle and supporting their dreams. We found out after extensive interviews with Kenny where he got his strength from—his loving family, and his own indestructible will. This feature we did on Kenny helped shed light on why Kenny has devoted himself to keeping Native youth on the right path.
This feature led to lots of people asking to see more of Kenny, so we obliged.
And here's Kenny at the aforementioned Sprite Slam Dunk Contest at the NBA All-Star Weekend:
And here is Kenny competing against one of his toughest rivals, the diminutive (for a basketball super dunker) Young Hollywood:
And then, just to make absolutely sure everyone knew who the best dunker in the world was, Kenny won Nike’s L.A. Live 3-on-3 Dunk Contest:
We're glad we got to know Kenny this year, and help share his story, his amazing ability, and most importantly, his commitment to making a difference in the lives of Native youth with people. We're looking forward to seeing what Kenny has in store for 2012.
We'll be following him closely.