The Orlando Magic and Magic Player Dewayne Dedmon Get Kids Ready to Go Back to School with Private Movie Screening
By John Denton, OrlandoMagic.com
The fact that kids and basketball fans look up to him – both physically and in an inspirational way – is still somewhat mind-boggling to Orlando Magic center Dewayne Dedmon, an accidental NBA player in a lot of ways.
The 7-foot, 255-pound Dedmon didn’t start playing basketball until his senior year of high school because of strict religious beliefs held by his mother in Central California. When a big growth spurt accompanied his blossoming physical gifts, Dedmon ultimately morphed into a JUCO standout, a scholarship-winner at USC and a professional who has seemingly found an NBA home in Orlando with the Magic.
Dedmon was surrounded by more than 250 cooing local children on Thursday at the AMC Altamonte Mall 18 Theatre to take in an advanced viewing of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Many of the children marveled at Dedmon’s soaring height, his massive hands and hung on his every word on Thursday. All of it, Dedmon admitted, is somewhat shocking to a person who never really even thought he’d be a NBA player who children would someday look to as a role model.
“That definitely still does catch me off guard and I have to pinch myself every day,” Dedmon said. “This is me living a dream right now. To be able to do this and hopefully have a positive impact on kids, it’s great.”
Dedmon and the Magic hosted the youth on Thursday at a private screening of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The children hailed from the Parramore Kidz Zone (PKZ), BETA Center, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Florida, Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida and Boys & Girls Clubs of Eatonville.
In addition to seeing the much-anticipated movie, the children were treated to complimentary popcorn and drinks and Magic goodie bags. Also, they got to meet Dedmon, Magic Community Ambassador Bo Outlaw and STUFF the Magic Mascot.
“We’ve taken the kids to the theatre downtown and they’ve looked at the previews (for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) and they were excited to see the movie. Then, when we told them that they were going to get to see the movie before anybody else they were so excited,” said Antonio May, a counselor from the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Florida who chaperoned 49 children on Thursday. “An event like this means a lot to the kids because they can see an NBA player and a member of the Magic giving back to the community.”
Dedmon, who playfully conducted interviews and watched Thursday’s movie while wearing a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle mask, played in the NBA’s Developmental League last season before getting brief promotions with the Golden State Warriors and the Philadelphia 76ers. The third time proved to be the charm as the Magic signed him for the remainder of last season following two 10-day contracts.
In 16 games last season with the Magic (six starts), Dedmon showed promise as a low-post defender by averaging 3.7 points, 4.9 rebounds and 0.8 blocked shots a game. He followed that by putting up 9.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.0 blocks and 2.0 steals in three games of the Orlando Pro Summer League.
Dedmon said he is humbled by the fact that the Magic believe in him to give him a contract and a NBA home. He has remained in Orlando most of the summer to work out with Head Strength and Conditioning Coach Bill Burgos. Dedmon said he feels that he must simply outwork others to stay in the NBA because he is a late-bloomer to basketball because of his delayed entry into the game.
“Before I had signed I talked to (Magic Head Coach) Jacque (Vaughn) and he told me that they wanted me here while we’re trying to grow,” Dedmon said. “That was a big conversation for me. I appreciated how he came to me and told me that and how the organization has faith in me. I appreciate it and I’m here to get better.”
Dedmon said he’s added eight pounds of muscle so far this offseason in an attempt to become more of a physical presence on the low block. He hopes to add even more weight as he continues to use the hard work philosophy that helped him become an unlikely candidate to play in the NBA.
“I always had the work ethic of trying to improve. I know that I have to have that same mentality here every day,” he said. “We’re a young group on the Magic and everybody is hungry and everybody is trying to improve. Everybody is trying to do the best that they can so that we can help the organization win. Everybody is putting in their work this summer.’’
Dedmon said he hopes to use his platform as a NBA player to be a positive role model to Central Florida children in need of someone to look up to. After all, Dedmon is proof positive that someone can reach their dreams no matter how late in life they start.
“I tell them to work hard and that they have to stay in school and pay attention to those books,” he said. “I know it’s tough for some of them, but it’s a big part of growing up. And whatever they dream of, they just have to work toward it. I’m proof that anything is possible.”
Since the team’s inception in 1989, the Magic’s commitment to Central Florida has been a top priority with more than $40 million donated to the local community by way of event sponsorships, donated tickets, autographed merchandise, scholarships and grants over the years. Magic community programs have impacted nearly two million total youth along with more than 5,000 player and community ambassador appearances. The Magic continues its quest to be champions on the court and in the community and looks toward a city that flourishes through a collaborative effort of the Magic’s coaches, players, employees, partners, fans and Central Floridians. To learn more about the Magic in the community, please visit www.orlandomagic.com/community.