Suns forward Williams helps dedicate Eastlake Community Center

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Suns forward Alan Williams talking with kids of the Phoenix community at the ceremony of the renovation of Eastlake Community Center on Apr. 6 2017.(Photo by Adonis Dees/Cronkite News) Suns forward Alan Williams talking with kids of the Phoenix community at the ceremony of the renovation of Eastlake Community Center on Apr. 6 2017.(Photo by Adonis Dees/Cronkite News)
Suns forward Alan Williams drawing with kids at the newly renovated learning room of the Eastlake Community Center on Apr. 6 2017 in Phoenix. (Photo by Adonis Dees/Cronkite News) Suns forward Alan Williams drawing with kids at the newly renovated learning room of the Eastlake Community Center on Apr. 6 2017 in Phoenix. (Photo by Adonis Dees/Cronkite News)

By Adonis Dees, Cronkite News

PHOENIX (Cronkite) — Children from throughout central Phoenix gathered Thursday to celebrate the renovation of Eastlake Community Center.

The Phoenix Suns partnered with Southwest Airlines for a ribbon cutting ceremony at the facility’s learning center. Southwest contributed $20,000 to the project.

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, along with former and current Suns players, including forward Alan Williams who grew up using Eastlake Park, attended the ceremony. Stanton spoke about the history of the community center and park, which have been the site of marches and celebrations dating to the Civil Rights era of the 1960s, and a place for youth to learn and play.

Stanton called the Eastlake Community Center at the park “the most legendary and historical place in the city of Phoenix.”

Williams is an Arizona native, who played basketball as a child at Eastlake Park, located at 1548 E. Jefferson St. He said he was honored to take part in the ceremony.

“This is close to the heart, because I grew up here,” Williams said. “It’s always been a central hub of change and forward progress in the community. So it means a lot for me personally to be here today.”

Suns President Jason Rowley understands the personal connection between Williams and the area.

“He’s a guy who truly understands what it means to give back to the community and have a community kind of ingrained in yourself,” Rowley said. “It’s not just that he’s from here, but this community is part of who he is. As an organization, to have that type of an individual as an asset is something that you can only hope comes along once every generation.”

Williams has done more than connect with fans Since the All-Star break, the hometown kid is averaging close to a double-double per game. His hustle continues to shine on and off the court.

Williams is also this year’s recipient of the Dan Majerle Hustle Award, which recognizes  a player for his drive and work ethic during the season. P.J. Tucker, who was traded to Toronto in February, had won the award four seasons in a row.

“Anytime you get a chance to watch P.J., that (award) is what epitomizes that hustle, that grind and the heart that he plays with,” Williams said. “I’ve never seen a player play with as much passion as he did.

“So I just try to take that from his game and understand that there has to be a couple of guys on the team like that, and I’ve gladly accepted that role and I’m happy to receive the award.”

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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