first_imgPelt began frequenting the Fred Roberts rec center as a preschooler, and his focus on sports there helped him avoid gangs and other potential pitfalls. When he was 17, he was offered a job at Fred Roberts, and he’s worked there since.Oscar Pelt, a 31-year-old basketball coach in the L.A. Clippers’ youth basketball program, has worked at Fred Roberts Recreation Center in L.A. for 13 years.Understanding the challenges many of his young players are facing, “OJ” — as everyone knows the father of two — will call families to remind them about practice and game times, he’s worked with various organizations to secure shoes for the kids he coaches and, once every two weeks, he’ll bring bags of food from a local food bank to distribute to his players’ families after practices.Even though parks have been closed during the coronavirus pandemic, he said he’s managed to stay in touch with his players, including by playing video games with them remotely.Big on schoolwork and nutrition, Pelt said he’s glad to be able to provide the youngsters in his community with an alternative to gangs and trouble — and to know his efforts have paid off. One time, a former player showed up with a bachelor’s degree to not only show Pelt, but to have him sign.“When he did that, I was more conscious about (being) a mentor,” Pelt said. “And about how to help out the kids.” The Clippers haven’t yet had an opportunity to return to the court and continue what they hope is a journey toward the NBA Finals — but already, they’ve got a finalist in their midst.Oscar Pelt, a 31-year-old basketball coach in the L.A. Clippers’ youth basketball program at Fred Roberts Recreation Center in L.A., was recognized as this week as one of three finalists for Jr. NBA Coach of the Year by both the Jr. NBA and Positive Coaching Alliance. The organizations partner to honor influential youth basketball coaches and the impact their work does for the game.But Pelt says the work’s about more than the game.“I’m not only about basketball, I’m on them about school,” Pelt by phone Wednesday. “I try to question them: ‘What do you want to do?’ and everything, so maybe they can feel like it’s not only about basketball, even if it is about basketball.” Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img

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