CHICAGO – Markelle Fultz, who has worked hard to overcome early career obstacles, is currently in the middle of a breakout season with the Orlando Magic.

His confidence, although it never wavered even when he had to miss time on the court because of his shoulder injury, is booming, and that has been noticed by seemingly everyone he’s been in contact with at NBA All-Star Weekend in Chicago.

Even though he’s not competing in any of this year’s events, the 21-year-old point guard made the trip to the Windy City to get a taste of what this scene is all about. And based on what he’s observed so far, he’s going to push even harder to get invited to future All-Star Weekends.

“Just taking it all in really and using it as motivation,” Fultz said. “Being around and seeing everything going on, it’s just a really dope experience for me. It’s my first time at any event, any All-Star. I’m just really honored and I’m happy.”

While pretty much every NBA player says a goal of theirs is to become an All-Star, Fultz is willing to go above and beyond to turn that into a reality for himself. With his eyes and ears wide open, the 2017 No. 1 overall draft pick is using all the positive energy around him in Chicago to fuel his drive even more.

His Orlando teammates, including Aaron Gordon, who is in Chicago for the dunk contest, have full confidence in him and believe he will accomplish big things in the years ahead.

“He’ll be back (at All-Star). He’ll be in the big game soon,” Gordon said.

Already very active in the Central Florida community helping children reach their highest potential, Fultz decided he wanted to make a difference on a more national scale. That’s why the 6-foot-3, 209-pounder joined Gordon for an NBA Cares event on Friday at the Navy Pier, where they helped show 300 girls from various Chicago public schools the fundamentals of the game as part of the WNBA and Jr. NBA’s “Her Time to Play” initiative.

The positive impact Gordon, who will be participating in Saturday night’s headline event for the third time in his career, has made on the Orlando area is something he is extremely proud of. Especially when it comes to children and their education, the 24-year-old high flyer is on a mission to transform youth and show them how much fun learning can be.

Last season, Gordon and Jonathan Isaac were named co-winners of the Rich & Helen DeVos Community Enrichment Award for their commitment to community service in Central Florida. While incredibly grateful to be recognized, that prize was simply a reminder of all the children he’s assisted through the years and the joy they’ve shared during various community events.

“It’s always good to give back,” the 6-foot-9, 220-pound forward said. “We have so many public figures and high profile people (at All-Star Weekend) and it’s about leading by example. You come back here and you show that basketball is a game of love and it can be shared and it can take you to so many different opportunities and open so many doors. We are just trying to give back.”

The “Her Time to Play” program curriculum, co-created with the Women’s Sports Foundation, pairs on-court training with off-court life skills lessons to build girls’ confidence, prepare them for the challenges of adolescence and teach them important values such as teamwork and leadership.



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