By Damion Smalls
Porter-Gaud School alumnus and Milwaukee Bucks shooting guard Khris Middleton returned to his hometown this summer to host his Kids Basketball Camp. Held on June 28 on the campus of his high school, the camp for boys and girls ages 9-17 was supported by a congregation of Middleton’s friends, family and fellow members of the Cyclones’ illustrious basketball past. It was truly a team effort as those close to Middleton helped him make a positive impact on young local athletes.
“The Khris Middleton Basketball Camp has many goals. We want to give kids in the community the opportunity to attend a NBA player camp,” says Middleton. “There aren’t many of us NBA players that have come out of Charleston, so I think it’s my responsibility to not only give them access to this type of camp, but also be able to do something positive for the community. Because of the camps, we’ve been able to donate thousands of dollars to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Carolina Youth Development Center.”
Middleton’s annual camp brings him back home each summer to the place that raised him. “I was born and raised in Charleston,” he states.“The city has changed so much throughout my lifetime, but it’s never lost its charm and I think that’s what keeps me here. Charleston helped shape me to the man I’ve become today. The values that the city holds are similar to the priorities in my life–family, friends, and culture.”
The tight bond that Middleton has formed with Porter-Gaud from his days as a Cyclone has made a lasting impression on him. “I attended Porter Gaud as an eighth grader and began playing basketball for the school a year later. I wouldn’t be where I am today without my education at Porter-Gaud,” Middleton admits. “For my family and I, it was not just about basketball, it was about getting a great education at one of the best schools in the state that would help shape me into the man I’ve become today.”
Ever grateful, he has fond memories of the school, both on and off the court. “Before they knew I would be in the NBA, Porter equipped me with the knowledge and skills necessary to be successful in this world. That’s what they do with all of their students and that’s why they will always have my support,” the pro baller adds.
To further demonstrate his support for his school, Middleton pledged in late 2017 $1 million to Porter-Gaud over the next five years to fund scholarships for local underserved and minority students. The Middleton Scholars Program plans to distribute full or partial tuition and educational expenses for high school students in the Charleston area in assistance to them attending Porter-Gaud, starting in the 2019-20 school year. The diversity initiative has been set in motion to reward accomplished, underserved and minority students with previously infeasible educational opportunities at an elite, private, college preparatory institution that will offer $24,240 in annual tuition for grades 9-12 for the 2018-2019 school year.
“I think the Middleton Scholars Program will be great for Charleston and have a lasting impact,” Middleton asserts. “Through the help of my family and other resources, I received a great education at Porter-Gaud. My hope is that this scholarship gives those that same opportunity. I think the scholarship will also bring much needed diversity to the school which benefits everyone and has been an issue in SC even when I was growing up.”
“Without a scholarship like this, the most deserving students–regardless of race or socioeconomic background–would not have access to this type of education. I’m trying to change that. Hopefully, we’ll see the impact for years to come,” he declares. Currently, minority students consist of only 13% of the school’s population.
Khris Middleton is using his expanding resources to facilitate the ability of local underserved and minority students to attend a sterling establishment of Porter-Gaud’s caliber because, in his words, “there weren’t many students in my class that looked like me. I want to change that. I want the underserved and minority students to have the same access to a great education like I had. The fact that I can contribute to creating that access and pipeline is very rewarding and I’m excited to see the type of influence it will have on others and the Charleston area.”
Coming off his sixth year in the NBA, the combo guard/forward produced career highs in points per game (20.1), minutes per game (36.4) and rebounds per game (5.2) for the 2017-2018 season. After starting in each of the 82 games in the regular season, Middleton took his play to the next level when the Bucks earned a spot in the postseason. During a hard fought, seven game series against the Boston Celtics, Middleton averaged 24.7 points and raised his field goal and three point percentages significantly in a valiant, albeit losing effort. Undeterred, the burgeoning superstar has high hopes for Milwaukee’s chances in the upcoming season. “Our goal each year is to reach the Finals,” he reveals. “There are a lot of moves happening in the league right now, so we’ll have to wait and see how the Eastern Conference will look but our goal to get to the Finals has never wavered.”
As already one of the most successful professional athletes hailing from Charleston at the age of 26, Middleton’s message to the local Black youth that are witnessing his ascending stardom and aspiring to emulate is pointed and poignant. “My advice would be to stay focused, stay out of trouble, and don’t let anyone discourage you from your dreams,” he shares. “Growing up in the south, you are faced with adversity, even at a young age, because of the color of your skin. You have to work twice as hard sometimes, just to be noticed. I would tell the Black youth to keep grinding, no matter what challenges you may be faced with.”