HANG TIME SOUTHWEST — Terrence Ross is thrilled to be one of six competitors and the lone rookie entrant in Saturday’s Sprite Slam Dunk contest in Houston as part of All-Star Saturday. And as the Toronto Raptors guard defies gravity, he’ll be uplifted by a number of young fans he probably never knew he had.
That’s because the 22-year-old guard out of Washington plans to dunk something far bigger than basketballs — he wants to help dunk cancer and help the children battling the despicable disease every day.
Before the Raptors play host to the Denver Nuggets tonight, Ross will announce his involvement in launching a three-part fundraising campaign in partnership with “Dunk Cancer” and its month-long initiative, “Dunk Cancer Month,” during the NBA’s All-Star Weekend.
Ross has committed to help raise money to benefit the Children’s Cancer Association and his high school back home, Jefferson High, in Portland, Ore.
“Ever since I was in about the third grade, my mom has run an out-of-home day care service,” Ross said. “So there were always kids around. One of the kids that she took care of had cancer. We were close to the family and were always around each other so it hit home for us. That’s the main reason I’ve chosen to support “Dunk Cancer” and “Dunk Cancer Month.”
Ross kicks off the first leg of the campaign on Thursday as he’ll host a 72-hour, Twitter-based online fundraiser from his @T_DotFlight31 twitter handle. Using the #dunkcancer hash tag, he will encourage Twitter users to support “Dunk Cancer Month” by purchasing “Dunk Cancer” merchandise (T-shirts, hoodies etc.) at dunkcancer.com.
During Saturday night’s slam dunk contest, Ross will donate $2,000 to “Dunk Cancer” for every round he advances in the three-round slam-dunk competition.
He’ll go up against defending dunk champ Jeremy Evans of Utah, plus Denver’s powerful Kenneth Faried — who leads all contestants with 85 dunks on the season (seventh-most in the league) — the Los Angeles’ Clippers’ high-flyer Eric Bledsoe, the Knicks’ 30-year-old James “Flight” White and Indiana’s Gerald Green, who blew out a lit candle in a cupcake perched on the back of the rim in the 2008 dunk contest.
So what does the 6-foot-6, 195-pound Ross, the youngest of the contestants, have planned?
“I’ve been planning my dunks for about a week now, testing them with teammates to see which will get really good scores,” said Ross, who noted that Raptors newcomer Rudy Gay has provided some pointers. “I’m definitely going to do something new, nothing I’ve done during the season.”
So a few surprises then?
“Possibly,” said Ross, who is averaging 6.6 ppg and 2.1 rpg in 17.3 mpg. “I think I have a fairly good chance of winning. Plus, I need to advance to build up my contribution.”
After the All-Star break, Ross, the eighth overall pick last June, will turn his attention to his old high school in Portland. As the Raptors are playing the Washington Wizards next Tuesday, Jefferson High will be taking on Benson High. Ross will donate $500 for each dunk a Jefferson player slams home, up to $2,000. The money will go to support the school’s athletic program.
“I’m just doing my part to try to help kids that are in need,” Ross said. “Partnering with ‘Dunk Cancer,’ to benefit the Children’s Cancer Association and my high school back home, allows me to lend my name to a good cause.”