MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Bucks fans know the name George Hill. But they probably don’t know the name Michael Saunders.
“I think without that, who knows what direction I probably would have took growing up.”
The man Hill calls his godfather changed his life forever.
“Without that mentorship, I may not be the person that I am today.”
Growing up in a part of Indianapolis that Hill says could be “vicious,” he didn’t play much organized basketball until Saunders convinced him to join his AAU team.
“Every day they would just come back consistent with it. And one day I was like why not, let’s try it, and the rest is history.”
Hill quickly became a star on the court. But the impact of one-on-one mentorship off the court was even more important.
“It kept me off the streets, away from gang violence and the drug-selling.”
Instead of that path, Hill earned a scholarship to play basketball at IUPUI, then 12 years and counting in the NBA. Now Hill is "playing it forward." Today he has his own AAU program that helps hundreds of kids earn scholarships.
“I want to help open doors and show them that anything is possible, you just have to believe and know that someone is out there for you.”
Here in Milwaukee, Hill has helped buy Thanksgiving dinners and was a key member of the Bucks' “Play for Justice” event at Racine Correctional Institution, but one-on-one mentorship will always be his priority.
“What better way to give back than to show all of those kids I was you. I was that kid that no one ever looked to. Anything is possible if you put your mind to it, you stay on the right path and I’m going to be there for them.”
After more than a decade in the NBA, Hill knows he’s in the back half of his career. He’s hoping to cement his on-court legacy with a ring this June, but when he leaves basketball, his true legacy will be about much more than wins and losses.
“I could care less about the player they say I am. I want to be known that he was here for us, he represents us.”
Hill is encouraging others to get involved in mentorship as well. That’s why he started the George Hill Mentor of the Game program honoring people around the community who make an impact.