During his career as a professional basketball player, Tito Horford was recognized as a great defender of the rim, specialist in delivering blocks thanks to his tall stature (7 feet, one inch) and his ability to jump.
Now, established in the state of Michigan in the United States, the former member of the national team uses his time and energy to cover up crime and put up screens so that young people can escape the closed defense of that social evil.
“After leaving the NBA I started studying Criminal Justice and have been working for the juvenile delinquency department in the state of Michigan. I am an employee of the Court, a kind of mentor for young people ”, he says when interviewed by the sports editor of LISTÍN DIARIO in the digital meeting of Actualidad Deportiva.
Horford was the first Dominican player to see action in the NBA. He was selected by the Milwaukee Bucks in the second round (pick 39) in the 1988 talent draw. He had a brief experience that included another stop in the league in 1992 with the Washington Bullets.
“It is a very tough job as we try to get young people out of the gangs, off the streets, give them guidance and advice, help them with their education as well as find jobs when they get out of jail,” he adds.
He confesses that his stature has helped him instill “respect, not fear,” among the young people he works with, who call him “Mr. Horford” since sometimes things get difficult. One of his co-workers is Larry Johnson, brother of the famed former native of that state, Magic Johnson.
“I think I have worked with hundreds of young people in all these years (10). We have a school, they live there until they serve their sentence. After the age of 18, if it is a major crime, they are sent to jail, they have to go where the adults are, ”he says.
Tito, who in addition to Spanish and English speaks and understands a little Portuguese, previously worked for refugee services with people from Kosovo, Cuba and other countries, as well as an interpreter for the state court.
Regarding the decision of the Oklahoma City Thunder to no longer use the services of his son Al during the NBA season, he expressed that it is a prerogative of the team and that it obeys a policy to improve his chances for the next draft.
“They see that they are not going to qualify, they can get a better player in the draft lottery and they want to see the development of the young people on their team. Trevor Ariza was paid while he was at home and George Hill was changed after he was injured, ”explained Tito.
He said that Al has accepted the situation in peace and quiet as he has received professional treatment from the team.
Al, who has two years and $ 53 million left from the 4-year, $ 109 million contract he signed a couple of years ago with the Philadelphia Sixers hopes that in the summer he can be transferred to a more competitive team.
“I was having a good season in health, but they have the right to do those kinds of things like what happened in the cases of Andre Drummond, Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge,” Tito recalled.
However, these latter players opted for a contract purchase move to move from the Cavaliers to the Lakers (Drummond), the Pistons (Griffin) and the Spurs (Aldridge) to the Nets.
“Al is a competitor, he likes to be in action, but in this case he is not in control. You just have to listen and do what you have to do. Stay vigilant, don’t lose focus and keep practicing, “added Tito.
Evolution of sport
Despite being picked in the second round, the Bucks secured him a 3-year, $ 700,000 contract, which was good money at the time.
“It was a beautiful experience. It was a more physical game, half court. The game has evolved, today’s players are more versatile and up to 7 feet are throwing three. In my time it was stronger, we had to travel on commercial planes, not private ones like now, ”he said.