ST. LOUIS — You’ve seen the flashy dunks and that silky-smooth jump shot, Bradley Beal is a basketball superstar. But to the man who grew up in University City and made it out of St. Louis, he wants to be remembered for much more.
“My career is going to be coming to an end soon and so it's like OK, what do you do after that,” Beal said.
Only 27-years-young, Beal is helping mentor the next wave of athletes. The St. Louis Eagles were the AAU basketball team to play for in St. Louis back in the day. It’s a program that Beal says helped him become the man he is.
“I always told myself that when I was finished, I would always come back and give to this program,” he said.
Rich Gray, who founded the Eagles, was one of the first people to openly tell Beal he had a chance to play in the NBA. Beal said it was after that talk with Gray when he decided to take things seriously. Unfortunately, his mentor and friend, Gray passed away. Saddened by his death, Beal made it a point to continue what Gray had started, helping fill the void on the Eagles sidelines.
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Now, the Eagles are called Brad Beal Elite, and they get to learn from the man himself.
“You know when we came up, we didn't have the NBA guys or college guys coming back and teaching us the game,” Beal said on why it’s important to him to get involved hands on.
He admitted taking advice from the older, wiser basketball coaches on the staff isn’t always easy for young talented kids with bright futures, so that’s why being in the gym with the kids is vital Beal said.
“If I come in and tell them something, or Jay [Jayson Tatum] comes in and tells them something, their eyes are alert and they are all ears and they are listening,” he said.
The skills and hoops knowledge gained from the legendary coaches is valuable. But the life lessons Beal is dishing out, unmatched.
“We're just trying to get through to our kids, you know we have an opportunity to be able to impact other lives than ourselves and besides our teammates,” Beal said.
In a time where his team can’t travel and play non-stop basketball due to the pandemic, Beal is helping his kids learn their true value in life, like giving back to those in need.
“You know there's other people out here who need us, there's food that can be given out, there's essentials that people need,” Beal said. “That's just simply just us taking time to hand those things out.”
And Beal wants people to know his work isn’t stopping there. Soon, a wing in the new sports POWERplex where the old Mills Outlet used to reside, will be the home of something life changing for St. Louis kids he said.
“Way bigger than the sports complex, it's going to be an education center, it's going to be the go to spot,” Beal smiled while trying not to give away everything he has planned.