Putting others first has always been a priority for Oklahoma City Blue forward Kameron Woods. At Butler, Woods played a variety of roles, doing whatever it took for his team to win games.
His freshman year, he hit a crucial three pointer in a comeback win over Purdue. He was the sixth man deep into a title run his sophomore season. After an injury to teammate Roosevelt Jones, Woods made a transition to the three spot his junior year.
As a senior, Woods took charge of the Bulldogs.
Butler head coach Chris Holtmann raved about Woods’ leadership ability during his senior year, telling the Indy Star, Woods is “very bright and very articulate”. Woods used his skills on and off the court to guide the Bulldogs to 23 wins and the third round of the NCAA Division I Tournament as a No. 6 seed.
After college, Woods continued to better himself as a man and a basketball player. After several pre-NBA draft workouts in 2015, Woods landed with the Oklahoma City Thunder and ultimately, the Oklahoma City Blue. He credits the organization’s love of the community as a major factor in his decision to move to OKC.
“Professional basketball is kind of tricky because you’re playing on a lot of one-year deals,” he said. “You don’t really know about organization’s goals and what their values are. With the Oklahoma City Thunder, I thought it was a good chance to come join them because they’re a team-oriented group.
They are heavily involved in the community. Not just anybody can be a part of what they’re trying to build here. I took that as a compliment, that I was able to come and be a part of it.”
Last year, Woods averaged 4.7 points and 5.3 rebounds for the Blue. In the offseason, not only did Woods want to improve as a player, but also as a person. That opportunity came with the Oklahoma chapter of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
Woods’ former college teammate Andrew Smith was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in 2014 after playing professionally in Europe. The disease progressed into leukemia after a failed bone marrow transplant. In January, Smith passed away after his battle with cancer.
“Last year, when I was playing with the Blue, Andrew [Smith] passed away from leukemia,” Woods said. “His diagnosis was when I became aware of it. I played the entire season [after his passing] and then in the offseason I was here, looking for an opportunity to give back to the community and do something to build myself as a person.”
Woods found Danielle Looper, the School and Youth Campaign Manager for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Looper organizes school assemblies to educate kids around Oklahoma about blood cancer and raises funds to find a cure for all types of leukemia and lymphoma.
“We do some amazing kickoff assemblies to teach them about blood cancers and become heroes and help those families that are fighting cancer,” Looper said. “He’s [Woods] been doing the assemblies. Normally, I’m the one that goes out and does them, but now that we have Kameron, word’s getting around and they want him there.”
As soon as Woods met Looper, he knew he found the project he’d been looking for.
“When I came in and did the interview, she was who I talked to. We hit it off,” he said. “We both had the same interests in what we wanted out of me being involved in it. Obviously playing basketball, my schedule is a little difficult, but it was an opportunity where I could use that to help promote them [the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society] and build me as person. It’s also a positive reflection on the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Oklahoma City Blue.”
Currently over 300 schools across Oklahoma are involved in the fight against leukemia and lymphoma. Woods has been a vital part of that growth. Woods and Looper have teamed up for five kickoff assemblies so far, but plan to do 90 by the end of the 2016-2017 school year.
Looper said schools have canceled and rescheduled just to accommodate Woods’ schedule.
“The kids love it,” Looper said about having Woods. “They love hearing from him. They love having him at their school and him being encouraging to them. It’s really cool because he’s showing them how to be a leader in the community.”
Woods stresses the importance of positivity and influence in the fight against cancer.
“It’s crazy the impact I can have. I tell Danielle all the time, I walk into a place and I feel like I’m just Kameron Woods, just some regular dude. But to other people I’m not. You have to utilize that and try to be positive. That’s what I love about working with that. I get to be a positive influence on whoever I come in contact with because of who I am and where I’m at and what I do.”
Looper is glad to have Woods as a spokesman for the cause.
“He always tells them every assembly, ‘I’m 22 years old and I still have to listen to people. I still have to do my best, I still have to go to practice and do my very best. I have to listen to my coaches and my parents. You have to be respectful.’ He’s just really teaching a really good lesson to those kids. I’m very happy to have Kameron.”
Woods’ next appearance will be Nov. 28 at Freedom Public Schools. His next few months are filled with basketball and kickoff assemblies, something he wouldn’t have any other way.
“Any time you get a chance to meet people, shake people’s hands and make an impact, I’m there.”