Lakers' Jordan Clarkson Helps Kids in Low-Income Communities Change Their Lives Through Sports: 'You Can Prove People Wrong'

"If you work hard and put a lot of time in, you can prove people wrong," the NBA guard tells PEOPLE

Photo: Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

Fresh off of his second season as a guard for the Los Angeles Lakers, Jordan Clarkson is trying out a new position: mentor.

This summer, the 23-year-old from San Antonio, Texas, will dedicate much of his time off the court to helping kids in low-income communities stay active.

“Growing up, my friends and I were all active playing outside together and that’s how I got into basketball,” Clarkson tells PEOPLE. “Nowadays, kids miss out on all that because they’re inside playing video games.”

Due in part to this lack of physical exercise, one in three kids in the U.S. today is overweight or obese and therefore at risk of developing serious health problems like diabetes, asthma and even heart failure. Clarkson is doing his part to end this epidemic by helping kids get out outside and get active through his work visiting schools with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation and running his Nike JC6 basketball camp.

“This work means a lot to me,” he says of the camp, which will run from June 6-9 in Corona, California, and provide 50 scholarships funded by East West Bank. “It’s way more than just a basketball camp – it’s training for life.”

Clarkson says basketball changed his life long before he was drafted to the NBA in 2014. “As a kid, basketball helped me make friends and stay active,” he says. He hopes a new love of physical activity will impact the young people he works with in the same way.

“I hope I can show the kids that if you work hard and put a lot of time in, you can prove people wrong,” he says. “Not a lot of guys make it out of where I’m from so I never had anyone come and tell me anything is possible. I’m happy I can get out there and do that now.”

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