Pistons’ Tobias Harris Lends Time to Seeds of Peace

By Vince Ellis of Detroit Free Press

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Pistons forward Tobias Harris is doing a small part to help the problem of xenophobia. Harris is lending his time to Seeds of Peace, a non-profit that organizes a camp in Maine that brings youths of different nationalities together to help them appreciate those with differences. The theme of the camp is “Play for Peace” and Tobias joined more than 150 youths. Their nationalities ranged from Israeli to Jordanian, Egyptian and more. Tobias helped run the basketball clinic with the goal of setting aside conflicts.

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New Detriot Piston Harris Gives an Assist for City Outreach

By Jeff Seidel of Detroit Free Press

He hasn’t been here a month, but he’s already pledged to help out Osborn High

Tobias Harris, the newest Piston, sat in the auditorium at Detroit Osborn Monday afternoon, talking to a group of high school students. It was an off day for the Pistons, but he was out in the community doing something special.

“We are here to help you guys,” Harris told the students in one of the roughest areas of the city on Detroit’s east side. “We are here to see you guys be successful. We are here to see you guys, someday, be leaders in this world. We are here to see you guys be successful in whatever you want to do. That could be in sports. That could be in being a doctor or lawyer. That could be in anything you want to do.”

A few minutes earlier, the Pistons had announced plans to donate $300,000 over three years to bring City Year, an AmeriCorps program, into Osborn to give these students academic, social and emotional support.

“I’m the perfect example of somebody who has been sitting in those seats, just like you guys, in high school, sitting there, wondering what I was going to do when I got older, or what I was going to do in my life,” said Harris, who signed up to be an honorary AmeriCorps member. “One thing all of you guys should be doing is writing down your goals. Everybody here (can) help you reach your goals.”

A few feet away, Dave Bing, the former Piston and Detroit mayor, nodded his head.

“I love getting involved in the community and with kids and working with you guys,” Harris continued. “Because there is so much potential. You don’t want to waste your potential. You guys all have one basic gift right now, an amazing opportunity to be special.”

It was a powerful moment. How many of these kids have ever been told that they could be special? And by a Piston, no less?

“The people here today, the organizations, are here to help you do that,” Harris said. “Take full advantage of it. Really make sure you get the best out of whatever you want to do. This is an amazing opportunity for you.”

This Tobias Harris is something special, and not just because he’s averaging 17.0 points and 5.5 rebounds in six Pistons games.

Forget what he brings to the Pistons on the court, he’s a home run off the court. The entire city of Detroit won when the Pistons traded for him with the Orlando Magic.

He has been described as one of the most active, community-minded players in the NBA. Last March, he received the NBA Cares Community Assist Award. The day he was traded to the Pistons, he still attended a Black History event in Orlando. Because it was the right thing to do.

“I wish you guys nothing but the best,” Harris said. “I’m somebody who is a part of it now. I’m going to be here. I’m going to be hands on and be able to help you guys.”

This was the third organization that the Pistons have sponsored in Detroit this season. They have poured money into the Police Athletic League, S.A.Y. Detroit Play Center and now City Year at Osborn. And the Pistons are just getting started. Two or three more announcements could come by the end of the school year.

That’s something to celebrate. Give owner Tom Gores credit. He has unleashed Arn Tellem on the Motor City.

Tellem, a former sports agent who is now a Pistons executive, is trying to find ways to make a difference in the youth of Detroit, focusing on education and programs that offer mentoring, social support and guidance. The overall goal is better attendance, leading to better graduation rates.

“The Pistons are a community asset and we have a social responsibility,” Tellem said.

It won’t happen immediately. But it is fantastic what the Pistons are doing and how Harris is already involved.

“We aren’t going to solve these challenging problems alone, but we can make a difference,” Tellem said. “These are ripples of hope, and hopefully, like Bobby Kennedy said, ‘They can turn into a current.’ ”

Amen to that.


Post Trade to Pistons, Tobias Harris Honored a Speaking Engagement with Kids

By Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don’t Lie

George Karl, speaking out of turn last summer while also speaking truth to power last summer, was right. Every player is tradeable, and in the days before the NBA’s trade deadline life can be uneasy for those that understand this. Even given the NBA’s current extended All-Star break, you might have to pack up on the fly just because your team’s general manager decides he wants some more cap space this summer.

This is why it was quite impressive that former Orlando Magic hybrid forward Tobias Harris kept up his appointment to speak to a group of children on behalf of the Deeper Fellowship Church, sometime after it became apparent that he had been dealt to the Detroit Pistons.

Harris will be welcomed as the hoped-for swingman/stretch-four antidote that Detroit has badly needed all season. He’ll be embraced with open arms by the Pistons’ coaching staff, and the luxury of making $16 million this year (and over $33 million the next two years) will assist in any harried, rented and impermanent living conditions between now and the end of Detroit’s season.

Nobody likes to be at the whim of general managers that could send you to any of the NBA’s 28 different cities or 30 different teams, on the fly, however. In the face of that anxiety, most fall back on doing something that makes them feel comfortable, and at ease. Normal, even.

For Tobias Harris, that meant speaking to a group of children. Orlando’s loss is Detroit’s gain.

Tobias USA Basketball

Tobias Harris With ‘Best of the Best’ at USA Basketball Minicamp

By Robert Hornes with NewsDay

Tobias Harris has an opportunity to learn and play with “the best of the best” during this week’s USA Basketball three-day minicamp.

Harris, a former standout at Half Hollow Hills West who signed a four-year, $64 million deal to stay with the Orlando Magic last month, is playing alongside LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, James Harden and Stephen Curry, among others as a member of the 34-player roster.

“It’s really exciting for me,” Harris said after practice on Tuesday. “It’s something I’d never take for granted to be here among the best of the best.

“I’m definitely learning a lot. There are a lot of Hall of Famers out there, and I’m just taking it all in. I’ll be continuing to work hard, continuing to pick people’s brains and take that back with me.”

Harris, a native of Islip, faces a tough battle to make the final 12-player roster for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, given the amount of talent, especially among the forwards, attending the minicamp. Harris, however, has experience with the national team. He was a member of the 2014 USA select team that trained with and against the 2014 USA national team that won gold at the FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain.

“Everybody here has a legitimate shot to make this team,” Harris said. “So it’s definitely a goal for me and something I’m going to work hard for. It will depend a lot on how guys play during the season, and that will dictate the roster we have. So it’s something that is not unreachable.”

Harris, 23, averaged 17.1 points and 6.3 rebounds last season, both improvements over his career averages. He also shot 46.6 percent from the field and 36.4 percent from 3-point range last season. His 3-point shooting percentage was the best of his career.

“There is a lot in my game that I can get better at,” Harris said. “My playmaking, I can get better at that, and I’ve been putting myself in those types of situations to get better.”

Tobias Harris

South African Trip an Eye-Opener for Tobias Harris

By Bob Herzog of NewsDay

On a hand-written sign outside the gym at Half Hollow Hills East High School in Dix Hills, hand-written in purple, blue and green lettering, are these words, cited as the motto for the Tobias Harris Basketball Camp: “One small act of kindness.”

The sign contains color photos of Harris, a Dix Hills native, dunking a basketball for his current NBA team, the Orlando Magic. Harris runs the camp, along with his parents and five siblings, and on a recent trip to Johannesburg, South Africa, as part of the NBA’s Basketball without Borders program, the former Half Hollow Hills West star put his motto into practice.

“We went to some areas of poverty. At one place, the kids were asking me, ‘Do you want your socks?’” Harris said on Friday, on the final day of his camp’s second and final session of the summer. “One of them asked me, ‘Do you need them?’ I said, ‘Why do you ask me that?’ He said, ‘If you don’t want them, I’ll take them.’ It wasn’t just because he wanted an NBA player’s socks. It was because they didn’t have socks. I gave them to him.”

Just as he is at his hometown camp, where youngsters ask him about playing in the NBA, hang on his every word as well as his arms and legs and ask him to sign jerseys, photos and basketballs, Harris was a Pied Piper in Johannesburg. Kids followed him everywhere and left a lasting impression.

“It opened my eyes about a lot of things,” said Harris, whose camp just completed its fourth year of operation. “Just helping those kids in Africa learn basketball and being in the community with them. The best part of the trip was seeing how happy those kids were to see us. They come from so little but they really appreciate life. It was definitely a different culture out there. Everybody was grateful just to be living.”

Johannesburg was just part of a whirlwind, world-wide summer for Harris. In late July, he was a member of the USA Select Team that played against the touring U.S. National Team. “Playing against the best of the best and doing well was a big confidence builder to show me that my game is getting better,” said Harris, who averaged 14.6 points and 7.0 rebounds for the Magic last season, his third in the NBA. “It was an honor to be part of that group.”

When he returned from South Africa, Harris joined NBA stars like Kevin Durant, Kemba Walker, J.R. Smith and Carmelo Anthony at Anthony’s private gym in Manhattan, Terminal 23. “It’s the Jordan gym and it’s only for NBA guys,” Harris said. “I went into the city quite a few times and played pickup games. Going against those guys and having that good pro run is valuable for a player like me, just to see how I’m developing.”

Harris may live a privileged have-basketball-will-travel life, but he’s always happy to be home, laughing with kids who know his name, his game and some of whom wear a white, pinstriped Orlando Magic shirt with the number 12 and the word Harris on the back.

“I love these kids. I love all of them. They’re not shy about letting me know they have my jersey. ‘Can you sign it? Can you sign it?’ But it’s so cool and it’s pretty special,” Harris said, as several boys lined up for autographs during a pizza break in the cafeteria. “I’m always here, every day all day. It wouldn’t be right for me to have a camp with my name on it and only show up for an hour.”

Take the Pledge to Not Text and Drive with Tobias Harris

Think you can get away with texting and driving? Think again. Over 100,000 crashes per year are caused by a driver focused on their phone and not the road, crashing their car and possibly taking a life. It has got to stop. That’s why the Expressway Authority, Orlando Health Trauma Center, Z88.3, Boone High School’s “Always Wear Your Seat Belt Club,” and the Magic’s Tobias Harris have joined together to create a social stigma around this dangerous habit of texting and driving by offering drivers of all ages a solution – designate a texter.

As Tobias Harris recently stated: “Friends don’t let friends text and drive. They designate a texter.” Join the movement and take the pledge.  And, share why you designate a texter at #WhosYourDT.  It stops with you. Visit

Tobias Harris, the Orlando Magic and Amway Celebrate Thanksgiving in the Community

By – Orlando Magic forward Tobias Harris will partner with Magic teammate Maurice Harkless, the Magic and Amway Corporation to distribute Thanksgiving meals to preselected families from the Rosemont and Parramore communities on Thursday, Nov. 21 from 6:00-8:00 p.m. at the Rosemont Community Center at 4872 Rose Bay Dr., Orlando, 32808.

The group will provide 450 Thanksgiving meals to underserved families in the Central Florida community. Harris is joining the Magic and Amway Corporation in sponsoring the meals for the families.

“I’ve been extremely blessed,” said Harris. “It’s always been a priority for me to give back to families who are in need.”

The meal includes a turkey and all the trimmings – stuffing, turkey gravy, corn, mashed potatoes, dessert, etc. The event will also feature a family photo station for the families to have a keepsake from the event.

As a partner of the Magic, Amway has teamed up with the organization consistently over the years to give back to the local community.

“Amway plays a role in helping the communities in which we operate all over the world, and are delighted to be part of the Thanksgiving celebration as part of our commitment to Orlando,” said David Madiol, Amway community relations manager.

Amway has supported back-to-school supply drives, a KaBOOM! neighborhood playground build and Boys and Girls Club community gardens in partnership with the Orlando Magic. Amway’s involvement in this event is part of the Amway One by One Campaign for Children, which has bettered the lives of 10 million children over the last 10 years.

The Orlando Magic celebrates 25 years of Magic basketball both on and off the court. The Magic’s commitment to Central Florida is celebrated in its Silver Season with 25 years of giving through more than $40 million donated to the local community by way of event sponsorships, donated tickets, autographed merchandise, scholarships and grants over the years. Through a quarter century of giving, 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.


Magic’s Tobias Harris and Maurice Harkless Take Boys and Girls Club Kids to Movies

By Evan Dunlap at – The young Magic forwards hosted kids from the Boys and Girls Club for a screening of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2.

On Wednesday afternoon, Orlando Magic forwards Maurice Harkless and Tobias Harris headed to the movies. They had some young friends with them. As John Denton of writes, their guests at the screening of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, which won’t see wide release until Friday, were 90 kids from the Altamonte Boys and Girls Club. The Magic Dancers and former player Bo Outlaw, now a Community Ambassador, joined Harris and Harkless for the event.

Brenda Scott, an administrator a the Boys and Girls Club, told Denton that she had her students “submit essays about what the Magic mean to the Central Florida community.” She granted the students with the best essays the opportunity to attend the screening and spend some time with the Magic’s youngsters. Denton says that Harris “addressed the students and talked about the importance of getting good grades and having fun.”

The Magic released three photos of the event. Those photos are embedded above.

Elsewhere in Orlando community outreach, the Magic said Tuesday that their Magic Volunteer Program contributed 6210 hours of community service from July 1st, 2012-June 30th, 2013, bringing the organization past its stated goal of 6000 hours. According to the team, its employees have volunteered for more than 41,000 hours since 2006.


Jameer Nelson, Tobias Harris Help Build Community With Habitat for Humanity Orlando

By John Denton of…Assigned to paint a door stoop high overhead as a part of the Habitat for Humanity of Greater Orlando project, Orlando Magic point guard Jameer Nelson took plenty of grief about his lack of height and his need for a foot stool on Thursday.

Later, Nelson said it was fully worth taking the ribbing and getting paint smeared all over his blue NBA Cares shirt and black Reebok shorts because of the impact the work would have on a needy Central Florida family someday soon.

“You think about what we’re doing here and I’m humbled by this opportunity,” a reflective Nelson said. “Somebody is going to get to move into that house. Somebody is going to have a great time in that house. And they’re not going to have to worry about where they are sleeping. There’s just something great about doing something like that for a family.”

Nelson, teammate Tobias Harris, Community Ambassador Bo Outlaw and 20 Magic employees took part in a work day for the Habitat for Humanity of Greater Orlando on Thursday. The Magic have sponsored five of the 58 homes in the Stag Horn Villas section of Orlando. The $8 million project started more than four years ago, and when the Magic’s work is complete all the families will be in the three bedroom, 1 ½ bath homes that feature 1,150 square feet and energy star-rated features.

“When we started this community some of the things that we thought about were not only the aesthetics of the home, but also making them energy efficient,’’ said Jennifer Gallagher, the director of community outreach for Habitat for Humanity of Greater Orlando. “We wanted to make these homes sustainable long-term for the homeowners. Our goal is decent, affordable housing and we wanted it to be something that people are proud of. And this can be a showcase for what Habitat for Humanity really stands for.”

Lynn Ivanek, the director of development for Habitat for Humanity of Greater Orlando, said that for families to qualify for ownership of the homes they have to meet three criteria: They have to show a need for the home with their current living arrangements; they must be willing to put in the “sweat equity” on the construction, with single parents required to perform 300 hours of service and two-parent families putting in 500 hours; and they have to show that they have a means with which to pay mortgages that usually range from $550 to $700 a month.

Gallaher said the Magic should be lauded for stepping up and sponsoring and helping do the work on the final five homes in the complex.

“This sort of thing really shows that the Magic are engaged in their community and they get involved in a variety of ways,” Gallagher said. “They care about the people who live in this community and support them. The city supports their franchise and then they return that by supporting the community as well. It’s just great to see (Magic employees) come out and give their time when there is no reward for them besides the feeling of just giving back.”

Harris, whom the Magic acquired in a trade with Milwaukee in late February, said he is finally starting to feel at home in Central Florida. In addition to being a big hit on the court for the Magic – he averaged 17.3 points and 8.5 rebounds in 27 games in Orlando – he made it a point to volunteer for as much community work as possible. Harris got in a two-hour workout at the team’s headquarters on Thursday morning, and then headed over to the Habitat for Humanity event for some painting of porch columns and doorways.

“This makes you feel great, especially what we’re doing as an organization with the Orlando Magic by giving back to families in need,” Harris said. “It makes you appreciate things that you have in your life a lot more. I just love helping out people anyway that I can. I’ve always been the type to try and find ways to help people who are in need and do what I can also to help the organization. A lot of times it can just bring a smile to someone’s face when an NBA athlete comes and helps out.”

Harris, 20, knows that this is a big summer for many of the Magic’s young players and he didn’t want to waste any time trying to improve his skills.

“I did a week off and then it was back to starting up workouts for me,” he said with a laugh. “I just don’t really like to take too much time off in the offseason because I get bored. So I got it going again pretty quick because I still feel like I need to grow as a player and make more strides.”

Nelson, the Magic’s longest-tenured player and team captain, has used his time off this summer to be active in the community. Winner of the Rich and Helen DeVos Community Enrichment award back in March, Nelson presented a $25,000 check to the Runway To Hope last Saturday night. Later in the year, Nelson plans to present the other $25,000 of his $50,000 grant from the DeVos award to another charitable organization in Central Florida.

Nelson said the Magic’s commitment to making a difference in their community is so much more than just lip service. The Magic put in plenty of dollars of support and hours of work for local causes, such as Nelson’s painting of the new home on Thursday. Nelson said the devotion to the community is a direct reflection of owner Rich DeVos’ wishes that the Magic make a difference off the court.

“It says a lot about our owner and who he is as a person. It’s not just about winning a championship on the court; it’s also about winning off the court as well. We all know that we are very fortunate to have what we have. And we know that when we’re in a position to help somebody we should do it,” Nelson said. “We practice what we preach here with the Magic. I’ve been fortunate being on a team and in an organization with great people who love this organization. Look at a guy like Bo Outlaw, who has been here forever, and he loves this organization. He’s somebody that I look up to because of the things that he does in the community.”