Aaron Gordon is finally getting a chance to live the NBA dream to its fullest. The Orlando Magic forward is in the middle of the best season of his career, on a team contending for the playoffs no less. He also made his movie star debut this past offseason, appearing as an antagonist in the basketball comedy “Uncle Drew.” And, perhaps most importantly, he’s getting a chance to give back to the community.
The 23-year-old California native has established roots in Orlando since joining the Magic in 2014, both through his play and his support for education efforts in the region. On December 6, Gordon and his family launched CodeOrlando, a STEM education program for underprivileged students that ensures them opportunities to expand their knowledge of science and technology subjects and explore new careers paths.
At the kickoff event, Gordon made a surprise appearance with his family, joining students at Orange County Public Schools’ Academic Center for Excellence as they learned how to program and code robots with simple commands in a session led by Facebook and Sphero. Gordon, whose mother worked in technology for 35 years, hopes the students’ introduction to the program is only the beginning of a burgeoning education. With the financial support of the Gordon Family Foundation, Gordon intends for the program to teach children computer science all year long.
“Some of these kids don’t even believe or see that they can be something greater, so just giving them opportunities to see that they have potential for so many more things in life,” Gordon described the event. “Today was awesome […] It was just a really high energy and a good, fun time.”
This past summer, Gordon helped train kids using his own professional skills as well. In September, he hosted a basketball camp for 100 local students, many as young as elementary school. Not content to just sign autographs and garner attention, Gordon also taught campers fundamental skills, and of course, played a game or two at the end.
As the Magic work to build a team of players who can lead them to their first playoff berth in seven seasons, they know they’ve found a player capable of great leadership off the court. It’s only a matter of time until Gordon helps his team catch up to the level of success he is seeing with his work in the Orlando community.