I can't help but wonder what 5-year-old Randy Foye thought of Christmas.
As a kid growing up in the gritty toughness of a crime-infested section of Newark, N.J., the future Utah Jazz guard didn't have many -- if any -- luxuries. Not long after his father was killed in a motorcycle accident, Foye's mother fled town, leaving young Randy to live with a grandmother, and later an aunt, in a neighborhood controlled by gangs and drug dealers.
"I was basically a kid who grew up, who didn't have all the things he wanted, who had a lot of struggles when it came to just believing in myself," he said recently. "I didn't have a lot of the adult role models I needed."
Given such harsh circumstances, it would have been easy for Foye to get lost in the same chaos that has claimed so many bright young lives. But he was lucky enough to have a few close teachers, coaches and mentors who reached beyond themselves, giving all they could and then some. Miraculously, he made it out stronger, smarter and with more sense of purpose than anyone could have imagined.
Now in his seventh NBA season, Foye loves to play basketball and has become a key member of the 2012-13 Jazz. On Sunday the 29-year-old scored 10 points on 3-for-8 shooting (2-for-4 behind the 3-point line) to held the Jazz earn a 97-93 victory at Orlando.
But if he loves to play basketball, Foye lives to give back. And today of all days, this part of his life is especially worth noting.
He's not the only guy on the Jazz roster with a generous heart and a grateful attitude, but nobody does so with a greater impact.
Not long after being drafted out of Villanova, Foye started a foundation to give back to kids, especially those from inner-city Newark. One of his main focuses is to take young people out of the city, let them see what a real college campus looks like and, beyond that, what other parts of the country look like.
In doing so, he gives them the kind of fresh perspective that changes lives.
"I decided to do something and give back to the kids," he said. "I didn't just want to give out money."
Foye's "Assist 4 Life Foundation" goes into elementary schools and asks kids to write essays about their lives. Foye said his group selects students from across the learning spectrum and provides them a different view of the world.
"We pick students that are (on the) honor roll, students who are 'C' students and students who are failing," he said.
The idea, of course, is to let the kids learn from and motivate each other. After all, those who struggle can learn a lot from the honor roll students; the honor roll kids can benefit from sharing what they know and those in the middle can gain a great deal from seeing both sides.
"At the end of the day we want (the kids) to understand that with hard work, with a little bit of effort, with a little bit of sacrifice, you can do anything," Foye said.
In addition to "Assist 4 Life," Foye's foundation also does coat drives in the winter, Turkey drives around Thanksgiving and toy drives during the holiday season.
"I think the most important thing for us as the Randy Foye Foundation is understanding that no matter how many kids' lives you try to save, you're not going to save them all," he said. "But our message is to try to let them see that there's a different world than Newark, N.J."
Foye said he wants kids to see his example and know it's possible to go to college, earn a degree, become successful and then in gratitude turn back to help others achieve the same thing.
"I'm a living story that if you believe in God and work hard, good things can happen," he said. "I'm just blessed to be in the situation that I'm in."
To Foye, it's all about giving back while teaching young people to believe in themselves and each other.
Thankfully, even as a youngster with very little -- if anything -- under the Christmas tree, he had the gift of an appreciative heart.
"I've always been like that," he said. "You can ask anyone, if I had five dollars and my best friend that was with me didn't have anything, he'd have $2.50."