It took a while but the Lakers and the Lakers Youth Foundation’s promise to renovate the Boys & Girls Club of Burbank and the Greater East Valley gymnasium, which is now the Brad and Nancy Korb Family Gymnasium, became a reality after Tuesday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony.
With purple and gold balloons behind and flanking Lakers great James Worthy, the Hall of Famer did the cutting with a boy and girl holding each end.
In attendance was the Boys & Girls Club staff, including Shanna Warren, the CEO, Jay Jackson, the Director of Sports and Recreation, several board members, including the Korbs, Kiesha Nix, Director of the Lakers Youth Foundation, the Boys & Girls adult basketball team and more than three dozen children, who were attired in Lakers T-shirts.
The brand-new gym features four baskets and is decked out in purple and gold, the Lakers’ colors, along with two Lakers logos on the floor.
Warren said she is thrilled with the Boys & Girls Club’s relationship with the Lakers.
“The Lakers Youth Foundation has a long-time partnership with Boys & Girls Club across California and Southern California for sure,” she said. “So, they’ve been doing stuff with us for the past 18 years, even at our old location, and so when we were able to get this building, and we were able to have a gymnasium, they were the first people I thought of, and I reached out to them and asked if they would help and support a gym renovation and they were very receptive.”
Warren continued: “It was during COVID, and they said you [Burbank] were going to be the first gym renovation as we came out of COVID, and they kept their word,” she said.
The benefits reaped by this renovation are numerous.
“It’s really important for kids to have positive role models and especially role models that are alumni of the Boys & Girls Club. They pass down true success, and the fact that they remember the Boys & Girls Club and come back for future generations and want to mentor them and guide them is huge for our kids,” Warren noted. “Just having a nice gymnasium for them to play basketball, volleyball, yoga. It’s a great facility for them, and we also share it with the community, so many nonprofits come here in the evening and are able to use it for their sporting events as well.”
Worthy, a small forward and a three-time NBA World Champion, and an NBA Finals Most Valuable Player in 1988, said he’s been around the Boys & Girls Club since he was a youngster growing up in North Carolina.
“The Lakers have always been involved in community projects, whether it’s the Boys & Girls Club, whether it’s a particular school, whether they needed computers or goals in the gymnasium. The Boys & Girls Club has been a huge program that they’ve always worked with,” he said. “I grew up in the Boys & Girls Club. Back when I grew up, it was just the Boys Club. But I remember these types of projects where the budget might come up a little short. You might need someone to come in and do the right thing. The Lakers have always been that partner.”
Worthy, an NCAA champion with the University of North Carolina in 1982, a No. 1 overall pick in 1985 and a seven-time NBA All-Star, said it’s more than just a gym. It’s a special place for children to feel welcome and thrive.
“I used to be one of these kids,” he said. “So, I know what it’s like to live in the community and have a sense of pride where you can come to a Boys & Girls Club and have a gymnasium and have tutoring programs and have mentors because a lot of parents are working after school, so it’s a great after school program.”
Brad Korb has been a long-time benefactor to the city of Burbank.
“Nancy and I are so proud that we’re able to give back to the community. We’ve been supporting the community for over 43 years. We are just so happy we have the opportunity to help out,” he said. “It’s a wonderful, safe place for the kids to go after school. They’ve got amazing after-school programs for the kids. Weekend and summer programs, so it’s a great and safe place for the kids to go to be with others. They have great mentorship. Besides doing basketball, they help with studies, and they also have some work with film at Warner Brothers in the city of Burbank.”
Nancy Korb agrees with her husband and is pleased to see the project finished.
“It’s such a fabulous facility for the kids to come in and do what they want to do,” she said. “We’re in business in Burbank. Burbank is a community unto itself, and it helps everybody.”
Jackson has been a part of the Boys & Girls Club for 27 years.
“We’ve been involved with the Lakers going way back, ever since I first started here, so I’m going back to the Shaq [O’Neal] and Kobe [Bryant] days,” he said. “We’ve been involved in the programs that they’ve offered like the Junior Lakers programs and having the kids come to the Staples Center when the different players had different programs.”
Jackson added: “We’ve been involved with them [Lakers] for over 20 years, and they’ve been very good to the club,” he said. “We’re involved with the Junior Lakers program and that entails us having teams here, but also taking kids down to the practice facility in El Segundo and playing games down there and having different coaches, trainers, of which James Worthy was a part, Robert Horry and Michael Cooper. They were very good.”
Jackson said he’s proud of the work the Boys & Girls Club does and its partnership with the Lakers, but it’s always about the children.
“We’re the umbrella for it. The benefits that they reap is part of their youth development. I think that’s why so many people, young and older, love sports, because what it does for human beings and what the Lakers are doing and other organizations like the Lakers, is that they’re creating moments for these kids that they’ll never forget,” he said. “It will help them grow as individuals in their lives and they pass it on to their kids and their families. What the Lakers are doing is great and it goes beyond sports.”