NBA star Ray Allen

NBA star Ray Allen, third from left, has helped renovate five computer labs throughout the Miami-Dade County Public Schools system.

Education shines bright as middle schools students who scored a brand new computer lab through efforts of an NBA Hall of Famer and local nonprofits. Citrus Grove Middle School unveiled its new, state-of-the-art computer lab on Friday. The computer lab was fully remodeled and equipped with more than 20 computers, a smart board, and inspiring pictures of some of the most-exhilarating moments of Allen’s basketball career.

“This is amazing,” said student Maurice Andrews about the new lab. “I hope to get inspired and become just like him, or maybe even greater.”

Allen also used the opportunity to speak to kids at length about the importance of education, respect, teamwork and accountability.

“This means a lot to me,” Allen said to the students, “because I want you guys to have the opportunities that I had to be successful.”

Allen encouraged the students to plan ahead, focus diligently in their studies and to adopt a team mentality with their friends.

“I had a lot of people that pushed me in the right direction and I’m only here today because those people helped me,” he said.

Allen, who was a pivotal figure in the Miami Heat’s 2013 championship run, is no stranger to helping and bringing joy to the community off of the court.

Since 2011, he has donated a total of five computer labs throughout Miami-Dade County, 14 overall throughout the school systems on the East Coast.

“It is great to be able to give to the kids, get out of the way and allow them to use it,” said Allen, about the new computer at Citrus Grove Middle. “The minute I walk out of this building it is not mine, it is something that I helped nudge in the right direction.”

The Ray of Hope Foundation has renovated computer labs in schools from communities such as El Portal, Opa-locka, Miami Gardens and Homestead.

The Citrus Grove lab had the support of the two-time NBA champion and his foundation, Ray of Hope, the Foundation for New Education Initiatives and Loews Miami Beach Hotel.

“[Allen] made a selfless investment through a computer lab to provide digital equity to kids who live in impoverished conditions,” said School Superintendent, Alberto Carvalho. “He is one of the few that does not talk about doing it; he actually does it.”

Allen is a big proponent of education and believes in the power of giving back to the community. “This is not a concept or an idea; we are just doing it,” Allen said. “In every neighborhood an individual can help and it doesn't require a lot. It requires that you care and show empathy.”

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