Recently, we've had some tough games on the road in Madrid and Kaunas, against Real Madrid and Zalgiris, who had beaten us on our home court. We looked for redemption and got it: it was good to see our team play so well, especially when it counts the most. We obviously have a tough stretch as well at home with CSKA and Maccabi, and we will also play against great teams ahead. It is good to click on both sides of the floor and we want to continue playing like this throughout the playoffs as well.
Not many teams have been able to win in Kaunas this season; it is not how you start the game, it is how you finish! We didn't have the start that we wanted, but started to play better defense in the second half, made shots and played together. It was a tough atmosphere to play in and it was obviously great to get a win for Coach Obradovic on his birthday! We stayed in the city after the game, had cake and dinner together. We needed a win and it was good for everyone!
The EuroLeague gets the best out of every team each and every night. We have a tough schedule this week: we play against CSKA, which we beat at the buzzer with a tip-in in front of a tough atmosphere at their place, and have to have redemption against Maccabi as well. In the EuroLeague, you have to take one game at a time, and everybody knows how important every game is. You win or lose one game and it changes a lot. Every game is important, we knew that coming in and have to take care of our home cooking in these next two games. It is obviously better for me now that I got to play every team already once. In the beginning, you are playing against teams and players for the first time, but in the second half of the season, when you are familiar with the teams, the scouting reports and all those types of things, stuff is getting a little bit easier. It is all about clicking at the right time, especially down the stretch going into the playoffs which is, of course, what it is all about, the most important thing.
I'd like to let you know about my foundation and my program - L.I.V.E. Like JT (Learn.Imagine.Voice.Educate.). I came up with the idea because when I was a kid, I was looking up to guys who were in the NBA and were giving back to their community, so I always wanted to do that. I wanted to come up with a different movement - L.I.V.E. Like JT, learn, imagine, voice and educate. The "Learn" part is having kids and also adults learn. A lot of kids nowadays are not getting the right information when it comes to success. I am obviously a basketball player, but I feel like my program is for any type of athlete or any type of job. Learning is important - in case anything happens, you have your college degree or you GED for high school and you will be able to achieve anything in life. Then it is "Imagine." There are a lot of people who become successful, athletes, doctors and a lot of other people, because they can imagine and are around the right kind of people, family and friends. If you work hard, every dream is possible. "Voice." Your actions are important, but also your words. I think it is very important for kids to tell adults what they know, what they don't know and what they need in their lives to help succeed, and that is what I try to do. And "Educate." As adults and professional athletes, it is our job to help these kids reach their ultimate goals in life, regardless of any situation that they have with their families and friends, so they are able to achieve any type of goal.
I have been doing this for the past four or five years and last year launched it at my camp – the JT Elite Basketball Camp – for the first time. It has been overwhelming. It is not about money; all the money that I receive in donations goes to another cause. For Thanksgiving, I had a turkey giveaway at Tabernacle Baptist Church in Burlington, New Jersey, one of the churches where I grew up as a kid. And on Christmas, I did a shopping spree for over 100 kids for them to be able to get anything they want during the holiday season. These are things that I don't have to do, but it is something from the heart and I want to give back to my community. I want to see those kids of the next generation succeed.
I started the Jason Thompson Foundation in 2010 when my cousin Tiffany Carroll passed away from a heart disease called Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM). HCM is known as a leading cause of sudden cardiac death in young athletes. She played basketball as well and got treatment as a college athlete, but once she graduated, she wasn't getting the proper treatment. My mission statement is pretty much creating healthy lifestyles for children and young adults by providing the resources and social support needed to live each day as active, heart-healthy individuals, to avoid obesity, to avoid diabetes, to avoid kids eating fast food. I have had different events, teaming up with the American Heart Association, and am also collaborating with them on some different events throughout the spring and summer. It has been overwhelming to see the type of people that always donate and support the cause. It has been great!
It is not just me, even though my name is on the foundation. It is my family. I have my mother, father and cousins as board members - friends and family. Obviously, we cannot have as many events during the season like I did in the past when I was in the NBA, but we still do stuff from afar. They set things up for me to be there on FaceTime or send a video to come and support us each and every year. It is the same with L.I.V.E. Like JT; at my events, it was great for me to see the kids' faces on FaceTime. It is great how technology makes you feel like you are there! It was great to see the kids and the emotions that they had and how special it was for them. And for me to contribute to helping them have fun. I have very positive memories of the camps and events that I did in the city that I played in for so many years, Sacramento. Now I have my camp where I grew up in New Jersey and it has been over 10 years where I have had 250-300 kids each and every summer. Sometimes it has been two camps in the summer, so helping out so many kids in the past 10 years has been overwhelming. You see some of them graduating and telling you "thank you" for helping them reach their goals. It is comforting for me to know that I changed a boy or a girl's life by just showing them the way and putting them in the right direction to succeed.
You can find out more about L.I.V.E. Like JT at www.livelikejt.org. You can check out things and ask questions. Also, the foundation website is thejasonthompsonfoundation.com and there are different things there that you can learn about and you can donate there as well. All of the proceeds go to different events with the American Heart Association. I have a college degree in communications, TV and radio. I knew when basketball brought me here, I can tell kids that I went to college and education is very important. I always tell kids to do their homework and study because it is very important for them in their lives. Keep supporting my movement, L.I.V.E Like JT, my foundation, and also keep an eye on Fenerbahce as we try to achieve our goals in the EuroLeague and the Turkish League this season.