This off-season, one of NC State’s all-time greats has come back to Raleigh to give back to the town that helped make him a star.
Julius Hodge spent four years at State helping put the basketball program back on the map ,using not only his talent on the floor, but his quick wit with the media and his heart for the city. Today, after spending five years playing in the NBA and overseas, Hodge is back in Raleigh and using his skill, wit, and heart all over again to help out his school and his city.
This past week Julius held his first annual basketball camp here in Raleigh. Camp24Hodge was a week long skills camp for ages 6-14 where twenty kids learned not only how to win on the court, but off-the-court as well. “It’s not just about teaching them basketball skills.” said Hodge “It’s about showing them how to succeed in life. If you have good manners, you’re a good person, you always have a smile on your face, you try to do the right thing and you’re hard working then you can pretty much reach and achieve all of the goals you have in life. Pretty much I’m teaching them that through basketball.” The camp took place at Grand Slam USA, only a mile from the arena where Hodge starred for the Wolfpack. Over the week kids from all over the area came to participate, compete and learn from one of the hardest working players out there today.
After four very productive years at NC State Julius was drafted by the Denver Nuggets with the 20th overall pick in the 2005 NBA draft. He spent 2 years between the Nuggets and the Milwaukee Bucks before heading overseas to play in Europe and finally finding a home in Australia with the 36ers. Although Hodge found a great deal of success in Australia, NC State fans had not heard much from their one time fan favorite. That was until this past February when Hodge finally made his way back to Raleigh. “I had been working so hard to reach my goal of playing in the NBA and I’ve been really doing what everyone else wanted me to do in a way.” Hodge explained. “Then one day my wife just said ‘What do you want to do? You do what you want to do.’ I love Raleigh and this is where I wanted to be. I love Harlem but I wanted to come back here and have my camp, and start up some foundations that give back to the community.”
The Jules from Harlem arrived back in Raleigh and immediately picked up where he left off. He connected back with NC State fans through interviews, facebook and the new means of media he’s seemingly become famous for, Twitter.Hodge has become Raleigh’s version of Ocho Cinco in the world of social media. His nearly 1,500 followers can keep track of his daily antics as he updates them with witty one-liners and funny happenings throughout his day. Hodge has used these networks, not only to entertain, but to market two things that are very important to him. His basketball camp and his project “African Education Initiative” where he’s teamed up with Russell Simmons to help bring sustainable energy to the Tonga people in the Congo. He even has an event coming up in the Hamptons on July 3rd to help promote his cause which actually will be covered and aired on the Oxygen Network in coming weeks.
From basketball camps, to his work with the less fortunate, Julius Hodge continues to put a lot of smiles on a lot of faces, and continues to give back to the city and people that gave so much to him.