BILLINGS — Famous Lefthand and Kola Bad Bear are two of the most prominent Native American basketball players in the state over the past decade.
They’re both now players at Montana State Billings, and on Saturday they were in Lockwood teaching the next generation of hoopers.
“When I was younger, I didn't really have anything like that. Nobody was there to teach me or guide me down any way, so it was kind of self-taught," Lefthand said. "All I want to do is start something up, because most kids don't have that guidance. It's big for the kids to have, too."
“I think it just kind of gives them a sense of hope," Bad Bear said. "I know when I was younger we had Jude and Shoni Schimmel from Louisiville, they came out to Crow and we had a meet and greet. It was so cool for me to experience that and to be like, 'Wow, one of my own. They're in college. They're playing basketball and they're getting an education. If they can do it, I can do it.'"
The camp had two sessions — one with the younger crew in the morning, then the high school kids came in during the afternoon. While the kindergarteners might not know who Lefthand and Bad Bear are just yet, their words carry a little more weight with the older crew.
“I think being Native American myself and being able to connect with them on a different level, they take it more personal from me," Bad Bear said. "Especially at a young age — 'You're my own kind. You look like me and you have my same skin color, and you did this?'"
Two of the brightest young stars are spending their summers giving back.