It’s easy to visualize Chuck Hayes in the bleachers as he watches 10-year-old son Dorian on the court.
Dorian plays for an AAU team run by former NBA point guard T.J. Ford in Houston, Texas, Hayes’ home. To no one’s surprise, Hayes is raising a son steeped in athletics.
“Football and baseball might be his natural sports,” Hayes said. “He’s actually a better passer and shooter than me. He’s doing lefthanded layups. I couldn’t do that until I was 14.”
Hayes enjoys working with children beyond his family. The man who built an NBA career on the hardwood of Modesto Christian prepares for the fourth annual Chuck Hayes Summer Slam, a co-ed basketball camp June 5-8 at Modesto Junior College Gym.
To Hayes, the camp is more than just a meet-and-greet moneymaker.
“It is my commitment to the community,” he said. “I’m paying it forward and helping someone like they helped me. I feel obligated.”
Hayes has witnessed stirring events that transcend basketball at his camp. Two years ago, a disease-ridden boy received help via a connection made at the clinic. Last year, an older sister in the military returned home and reunited with her brother at MJC. The boy hugged her sister and cried.
“She just popped in and surprised him,” Hayes said. “It brings back the reality that basketball is supposed to be fun and a privilege.”
It is my commitment to the community. I’m paying it forward and helping someone like they helped me. I feel obligated.
Hayes, 33, officially ended his 11-year NBA career last September. Lessons can be learned by reviewing his sojourn. Undrafted after a distinguished career at Kentucky, he finally signed a 10-day contract with the Houston Rockets in January of 2006. In his first game, he scored 12 points and snagged 13 rebounds during Houston’s double-overtime win.
Here was a player standing only 6-foot-6, devoid of a reliable perimeter shot, who carved a place in the NBA by sharp rebounding instincts, guile and old-fashioned basketball intelligence. He made a living defending centers taller than him. His time with the Rockets, Sacramento Kings (2011-2013) and Toronto Raptors (2013-2015) was a seminar on how to maximize one’s skill-set.
“They saw something in me that, trust me, I didn’t. All I did was do what I was told and kept my nose clean,” Hayes said. “Did it go by fast? Yes. Do I wish I could play longer? Yes. But I was able to make a living in this league. I have no complaints.”
Hayes’ time in the NBA may be only starting. The Denver Nuggets hired him last September as a player development coach and a scout. He spends long hours working with players and scouting future talent.
“I really enjoyed being in the conference room for nine straight hours before the trade deadline ,” he said. “I also like evaluating players. I worked with that kid we traded to Portland (7-foot Jusuf Nurkic) every day.”
Hayes’ camp drew more than 200 kids last year from pre-school through high school seniors. He again promises pro drills, a tee-shirt and a ball for every signee, questions and answers with Hayes and autographs and photo opportunities. He’ll be there for at least 10 hours a day over the first two days, but he’ll miss the final two days due to scheduling conflicts with his work.
The cost is $155, but early-bird signees will pay only $130. Register at chuckhayescamp.com.