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Steve Ballmer, wife donate funds to refurbish city basketball courts


Hundreds of public basketball courts across the city will be renovated over the next three years, thanks to a major gift to the Department of Recreation and Parks Foundation from the L.A. Clippers and Chairman Steve Ballmer and his wife, Connie Ballmer.

Mayor Eric Garcetti and First Lady Amy Elaine Wakeland joined the Ballmers and Clippers guard Lou Williams, as well as L.A. City Council President Herb Wesson, for the announcement earlier this week at Jim Gilliam Recreation Center, 4000 s. La Brea Ave. which is among the nearly  350 courts that will be overhauled by the end of 2021.

Last year, Mayor Garcetti led the effort to bring the Olympic and Paralympic Games back to Los Angeles in 2028. LA 2028 will invest up to $160 million in youth sports programming in the city of Los Angeles over the next 10 years. The Ballmers’ and Clippers’ gift will build on the city’s momentum toward creating even more access to sports for children in all geographic areas and economically diverse regions of Los Angeles.

“Sports have always been an incredible vehicle for social change, and this gift is an extraordinary investment in our children and communities,” said Mayor Garcetti. “The Ballmers and the Clippers organization reflect the best of Los Angeles, and I’m grateful to them for their leadership and generous commitment to our city’s future.”

“Los Angeles is a city that embraces opportunity – and every kid in this city should have every opportunity to grow up to be the next Lou Williams, or Deandre Jordan,” said Steve Ballmer, Chairman of the L.A. Clippers. “Mayor Garcetti asked if the Clippers would play a role and help give opportunity to kids, and we were happy to step up. We believe every kid should have a shot at the American Dream, and youth sports opportunities can absolutely play a role in that.”

Research has shown that the benefits of physical activity and sports for young people extend well beyond the values of teamwork, leadership, and fair play that are reinforced on courts and playing fields. They also hold significant implications for short- and long-term health, academic achievement, and social development.

Students who participate in sports also have more opportunities to access scholarships that put higher education within reach — and girls who compete are more likely to get higher grades and graduate from high school, have lower levels of depression, and avoid unintended pregnancies. A large number of the courts being renovated are located in communities where Mayor Garcetti’s Girls Play L.A. (GPLA) initiative is driving higher participation by young women in the City’s youth sports programming.

Gender equity is a core value of the Clippers organization, which has the largest female leadership team in the National Basketball Association. In Los Angeles, basketball participation is roughly 25% female and 75% male whereas nationally the stats are 40% and 60% respectively.  In conjunction with the targeted resources and expanded female mentorship that GPLA provides, today’s donation is expected to help the program continue to increase female participation rates.

Early in Mayor Garcetti’s administration, the Department of Recreation and Parks (RAP) conducted a detailed assessment of basketball courts and determined that the floors of 108 indoor courts and 236 outdoor courts are in need of restoration in order to be in use. The generous donation from Steve and Connie Ballmer and the Clippers will renovate every single court that is in need of repair in Los Angeles.

Renovation of Los Angeles basketball courts will include updating the asphalt, concrete (outdoor) or wood (indoor) flooring, installing new backboards, frames, rims and scoreboards. Each project will be customized to update each court in line with the needs of the local community who uses it. RAP expects all renovations to be complete within three years.