Corey Brewer was part of the best teams in Florida basketball history — back-to-back national title squads in 2006 and 2007 that won based on values of sharing the basketball and working together on both ends of the floor to achieve a common goal.
So it stands to reason that the key players from those Gator teams would become philanthropic.
Brewer is back in Gainesville this week for his seventh annual Back 2 Back Youth Basketball camp, with proceeds in the name of the Corey Brewer Fight Diabetes Fund going toward UF’s Shands Hospital.
Brewer is not the only one putting his name and NBA millions to good use. Former Gator center Joakim Noah has started the Noah’s Arc Foundation, with programs designed in art and sports to help at-risk youth in urban communities. And former Gator forward Al Horford has been involved in a number of charities in his pro career, including Basketball Without Borders, the NBAs Fight Against Aids, the Make a Wish Foundation and local charities in his native Dominican Republic.
“It’s always the right thing to do, to give back to the community,” Brewer said. “For me, I love to do camps, I come in here in Gainesville, I do a camp at home in Portland, Tenn., you have to give back. We’re all very blessed, just to have the opportunity to be able to give back is very important.”
For Brewer, the diabetes cause is personal. Both of his parents were diagnosed with diabetes when he was young. His father passed away from complications due to diabetes.
“It’s a cause that hits home to me,” Brewer said. “It’s very important.”
Brewer said he thinks it’s a positive step that athletes have become more vocal about important social issues.
“It’s a crazy world,” Brewer said. “It’s good that athletes are stepping up, saying things and have their opinion. The world right now, anything can happen.”
Brewer, who turned 30 last March, is entering his 10th NBA and third with the Houston Rockets. He’s looking forward to playing in new coach Mike D’Antoni’s up-tempo system.
“It suits me a lot better,” Brewer said. “Last year was a struggle for me, once Coach (Kevin) McHale got fired we kinda slowed it down. So now I feel like, it will be a good to play a lot faster with Coach D’Antoni.”
Brewer, who averaged 7.2 points and 2.4 rebounds last season, is transitioning from second or third scoring option into a veteran leadership role with the Rockets.
“You learn a lot,” Brewer said. “Once you lose a little speed, a little athletic ability you have to learn to be a little smarter and know what you can do and what you can’t do. I feel like I’ve done a good job of that. I know what I can do, what I can’t do, I know what I can do to help the team.”