Thunder guard Russell Westbrook has become the face of the Thunder franchise with his impressive performances on the basketball court, but something that often becomes overlooked is the good he does in the community using his brand to reach new heights and serve others.
Westbrook, along with his long-time comedian friend Demetrius “Juice” Deason, hosted the third annual Why Not?? Comedy Show on Friday night at the Tower Theatre in Oklahoma City. The two were joined by other comedians, such as Yasmin Bayatfar, B.T. Kingsley, Ron Taylor, and headliner Gary Owen.
The event was open to the public, and people from all over piled into the theater for a night of infamous comedy benefiting the Backpack Program. The Backpack Program is partnered with Feeding America ensuring children receive a backpack full of nonperishable, kid-friendly food to take home for the weekend guaranteeing they will be well fed while away from access to school meals.
15 years in the making, the Backpack Program now sends out 20,000 backpacks every Friday to kids across the nation, and all proceeds from the Why Not?? Comedy Show were given directly to this program for it to continue to grow and impact the lives of America’s youth.
Thunder players such as Hamidou Diallo, Paul George, Steven Adams and Patrick Patterson made guest appearances to support their teammate, and Mr. Westbrook was in attendance as well.
“A lot of times, athletes get such a bad rep,” comedian Gary Owen said pre-show. “People say, ‘Oh they have so much money, so they don’t have problems,’ but it’s nice that they use their money for good use, and their status, which is more important.”
Russell took to the stage after two hours of interactive comedy and roaring laughter to thank everyone for supporting his Why Not?? campaign and to give praise to his friend, Juice.
“This really means a lot, not just for me, but for Juice as well,” Westbrook said in closing. “To see him feel comfortable and come on stage; I think you guys have done that for him. I truly care for you guys allowing him to have the stage and platform to do what he does.”