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Pain into purpose: Bay Area coach pairs life lessons with hoop dreams

Bay Area coach pairs life lessons with hoop dreams
Bay Area coach pairs life lessons with hoop dreams 02:38

SAN RAFAEL – A basketball player who grew up in the Bay Area is now using his skills and life experience to try and give local kids a leg up on and off the court.

Kenny Woodard knows what it is to hurt in the night and work in the day.

His mother was murdered when he was seventeen. Not able to navigate the grief and with little help, he got into some trouble.  But, Woodard says, people stepped forward believing he could be more.

Soon, he turned pro and became a father.

Now he's passing his lessons on to Bay Area youth.

KPIX 5 caught up with Woodard at San Rafael High School where he held a camp for young basketball youth hoping to go pro.

Kenny Woodard at his basketball camp being held at San Rafael High School, August 5, 2022. CBS

Woodard started out telling the youth, "Be grateful. We're here. We get to play ball. We get to see another day."

Woodard is one part soldier and another part sage as he coaches, yelling mantras like, "Lets take it up. Even more. One more notch! We need each other because one thing I learned is that life is short."

At 17, while a student at Terra Linda High school, Woodard's mother was shot dead in a car while on her way to visit her boyfriend.

Woodard takes his story of loss and survival from grief and trauma and uses it to help others. 

"My mom raised me by herself," he said. "And she was shot when I was seventeen. Alright? Everything went spiraling down and basketball was the only thing that kept me going."

Now, he wants basketball to keep others going in their own trials, teaching that lessons learned on the court, translate to wins off the court in real life.

Woodard said, "You take everything you do on the court…the discipline…being coachable. Putting in the work. You apply it to your everyday life." 

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