WSU basketball greats give back

Written by Sara Garrison

Wichita State University basketball legends Lynbert “Cheese” Johnson, Xavier McDaniel, Aubrey Sherrod, Cleo Littleton and Antoine Carr are teaming up and working together to give back to the Wichita community by making a difference in the lives of children and the elderly.

Although the basketball greats may have played for WSU at different times, their love of basketball and Wichita State was a springboard to form their lifelong friendship.

“Wichita State and the Shocker Nation is such a big part of all of our lives,” says Aubrey Sherrod.

“We would not have met without Wichita State,” explains Xavier McDaniel, who played for the WSU team 1981–85. “We are a tight knit family of friends.”

“Anytime you can make someone’s day a little brighter … that is the thing to do.” — Cheese Johnson, WSU basketball, 1975–79

Even though the former WSU basketball players grew up in different locations, each one of them had at least one special person who made a positive impact on their lives. This gave each of them the desire to make a difference in the lives of others and give back to the community.

McDaniel says, “I knew that one day I would be in the position to help others. My goal is to do good while I am here and do my best for others, all of the time.”

Sherrod says, “It is rewarding for all of us to give back. We all had a difficult start in our lives and basketball is a big part of our lives. I always knew, when I was in the position to help others, giving back was something I wanted and needed to do.”

On June 7, Johnson, Littleton, McDaniel and Sherrod visited Wesley Children’s Hospital along with other WSU basketball legends Mike Denny and Rashard Kelly, and Wichita Police Chief Gordon Ramsay.

“We wanted to join together to help others. We are sports figures and humanitarians who want to give back to our community,” explains Cheese Johnson. “I want the kids in the hospital that we visit to know that we are here for them and they are important. We want to make them smile and forget about their illness, even if it is just for one moment.”

Johnson continues, “It means the world to me to see the smiles on the kids’ faces. This is real life for these kids. They are sick and their health is not good. Our goal is to shine a light on them so they feel they are not forgotten. We want them to know we are thinking of them and that they are special. Anytime you can make someone’s day a little brighter … that is the thing to do.”

In addition to visiting Wesley Children’s Hospital in June, the basketball legends also visited The Regent senior living residence.

McDaniel says sometimes individuals in retirement homes do not have visitors very often during their stay. For this reason, the basketball legends also wanted to visit the elderly.

“It is rewarding for all of us to give back. I always knew, when I was in the position to help others, this was something I wanted and needed to do.” — Aubrey Sherrod, WSU basketball, 1981–85

“It makes me happy to bring joy to someone’s day,” says McDaniel. “I enjoy sitting and talking to the residents and asking them how their day is going. I love to hear their stories and past experiences. I hope we can make that day, their best day.”

For the former WSU basketball players, giving back to the community also reaches back to the basketball court. In June, they also hosted their fourth annual summer basketball camp at Wichita Hoops Academy. The free hoops camp for kids 7–17 hosted about 275 youth players. Many of the attendees were from low-income households. Each attendee received basketball training, a free lunch and a backpack. The camp also featured community leaders as guest speakers.

“When you see the looks on the kids’ faces, it means so much,” says Sherrod. “When we talk to the kids, we all really stress the importance of getting a good education. We are all college graduates and we want to inspire the kids to go to school and get their college degree. Education is very important for their future.”

live  |  shop  |  dine  |  play  |  home  |  magazine  |  calendar  |  about  |  your turn