Recently retired 14-year NBA veteran Amar'e Stoudemire — who signed a two-year deal with Israel's Hapoel Jerusalem Basketball Club in early August — held his first basketball peace camp in Israel last week in an attempt to help fight global terrorism and unite children in the Middle East.
"The (camp) is based on bringing peace to the land of Israel," Stoudemire told USA TODAY Sports. "Not only in Israel, but also around the world. That's the whole object of the camp — to bring all cultures, religions together to enjoy the game of basketball."
Approximately 150 campers, including boys and girls from Israel, Ethiopia, Israelites from Dimona and Arab Israeli children, attended the camp, where Stoudemire was joined by NBA players Rudy Gay, Omri Casspi, and Chris Copeland, as well as WNBA players Mistie Bass and Alysha Clark.
For Stoudemire, who has Hebrew roots and refers to his decision to play basketball in Israel as a "spiritual journey," using basketball as an avenue to promote peace was a no-brainer.
"Basketball is considered peace for me," Stoudemire said. "Because, the thing about NBA basketball, it's a global game. There's a lot of European players getting drafted, a lot of African players getting drafted, a lot of African-American players getting drafted. Basketball is a multicultural sport, and I want to continue that brand internationally."
Since announcing his retirement, the six-time NBA All-Star has also tapped into another one of his passions — his love of art — to positively influence the children of his soon-to-be home of Israel.
A day after the peace camp, Stoudemire held his fourth "In The Paint" series event at The Israel Museum in Jerusalem. A primary focus of the "In The Paint" series — where kids meet with Stoudemire and various up-and-coming artists and rotate between painting and playing basketball — is to help at-risk youth tap into their creativity.
"We're just bringing another component to entertainment, art, sports — and it's allowing us to really bring the youth together to have fun and also learn about art and basketball," Stoudemire said.
But at age 33, Hapoel Jerusalem's newest star doesn't expect his impact to be limited to off-the-court activities, nor was his signing overseas simply a ploy to gain global recognition. Despite a long, injury-riddled NBA career, Stoudemire feels like he can remain effective.
"I feel great mentally," he said. "I feel like I'm still able to apply my dominance on the game of basketball. My legacy is not completely over yet, so I'm going to continue to build that, and I'm excited about it."
Follow AJ Neuharth-Keusch on Twitter @tweetAJNK