Washington Wizards Kelly Oubre Builds Relationships With Ellington Through Year Long Visits and Scholarships
Arts school is where Wizards’ most colorful character can truly express himself
When Washington Wizards swingman Kelly Oubre Jr. walks into the Duke Ellington School of the Arts, he recognizes the jazz legends on the walls. Down the hallway, he hears the beautiful disorderly sounds of an orchestra tuning up and as he enters the third-floor classroom, with the flyer advertising rehearsals for “The Bluest Eye,” he sees a circle of eight gifted students. Every time he comes here, Oubre also sees himself.
“Peek your head into a classroom, that’s me,” Oubre said. “Things in this school would be out of my comfort zone but if you look at it as a whole, fashion, art, music, dance, all of those are the creative things that make me happy inside.”
This season, Oubre has made periodic visits to the school, jumping into classes alongside students. As they studied fashion design, Oubre worked on his croquis drawings. As they practiced guitar, Oubre brought along his ax, too, and strummed along in a jam session. And as students in spandex went through a modern African dance, Oubre in his ripped, skinny jeans also tried to pick up the choreography.
On this March afternoon, the Wizards canceled practice and so Oubre returned to the school to pass out $1,000 college scholarships. He folded his leggy 6-foot-7 body in a recliner that resembled an arts project. But with his funky look — wild hair, a red and plaid lumberjack coat and a Death Row Records T-shirt — Oubre fit in with other young artists. The 21-year-old Wizards player belonged with this group — until you noticed the basketball trainer sitting in the back of the room and waiting to put Oubre through a workout on his day off……….(continued)