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Russell Westbrook asks Why Not?, helps children through foundation

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EDMOND, OK - APRIL 9:  Oklahoma City Thunder Russell Westbrook sponsor his 5th annual Why Not? Foundation bowling event on April 9, 2015 at AMF Boulevard Lanes in Edmond, Oklahoma. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2015 NBAE - PHOTO BY LAYNE MURDOCH/NBAE VIA GETTY IMAGES
  • Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images
  • EDMOND, OK - APRIL 9: Oklahoma City Thunder Russell Westbrook sponsor his 5th annual Why Not? Foundation bowling event on April 9, 2015 at AMF Boulevard Lanes in Edmond, Oklahoma. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2015 NBAE

Unlike his on-court persona — which often combines intense emotion with breathtaking feats of athletic ability — Oklahoma City Thunder superstar Russell Westbrook was all easy smiles and good times during the fifth annual Why Not? Bowl held at AMF Boulevard Lanes in Edmond on April 9.

The charity bowling event benefitted the Russell Westbrook Why Not? Foundation, which works to help children who face hardship of any kind. People from the Oklahoma City community, Los Angeles and as far away as Hong Kong gathered to support the foundation’s programs like Russell’s Reading Room, a literacy initiative, and Russell’s Reading Challenge, which encourages local students to make daily reading a priority.

EDMOND, OK - APRIL 9:  Oklahoma City Thunder Russell Westbrook and his Why Not? Foundation sponsor a bowling event on April 9, 2015 at AMF Boulevard Lanes in Edmond, Oklahoma. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2015 NBAE - PHOTO BY LAYNE MURDOCH/NBAE VIA GETTY IMAGES
  • Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images
  • EDMOND, OK - APRIL 9: Oklahoma City Thunder Russell Westbrook and his Why Not? Foundation sponsor a bowling event on April 9, 2015 at AMF Boulevard Lanes in Edmond, Oklahoma. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2015 NBAE

“It’s exciting to be able to bowl for a good cause and get a chance to get out of the house and have some fun,” Westbrook said. “When I first started my foundation, we kind of sat down and had a plan, and to see it unfold is a blessing.”

Founded in 2012, the foundation supports community-based education and family service programs while encouraging youth to believe in themselves. Growing up, Westbrook and his brother were taught to ask “Why not?” every time they were told they could not do something.

“It’s something me and my buddies came up with growing up in LA,” he said. “We tried to find a way of saying something that encouraged us and obviously could encourage other people across the world.”

Teammate André Roberson said Westbrook’s charitable works are an inspiration to the Thunder organization.

“A lot of people don’t get to see his off-the-court side. All they see is his passion for the game and his on-the-court things he does,” Roberson said. “He’s such a caring and giving person, and we all feed off of that. We just want to give back as much as we can.”

Westbrook’s giving is rampant. In early April, Westbrook gave local 19-year-old single mother Kerstin Gonzales the new KIA sport utility vehicle he won as the part of the Most Valuable Player Award at the 2015 NBA All-Star Game in New York City. In February, he opened his second reading room at Oklahoma City’s Martin Luther King Elementary. The foundation also hosts Thanksgiving dinners, holiday events and basketball camps in Oklahoma City and Los Angeles.

Russell’s Reading Room provides Oklahoma City children access to books and a safe environment to read in. Each room is filled with 1,200 books for all ages. Since October 2014, Oklahoma City Public Schools students who have participated in Russell’s Reading Challenge have collectively read more than 380,000 minutes.

Westbrook received the October 2014 NBA Cares Community Assist Award in recognition of his efforts to improve child literacy.


Print headline: Bowling over youth, Russell Westbrook’s Why Not? Foundation helps children during its fifth annual charity event.

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