By Noah Allison–

Louisville legend, Darrell Griffith is once again teaming up with The Healthy Hoops Kentucky Coalition on Sept. 20, to offer a free asthma awareness event for children from ages 7-13. The event will be held in Moore Traditional High School from 10:30 am to 3:30 pm. The workshops, that range from asthma screenings to basketball drills, are free and open to the public, and registration remains open through Sept. 19.

“Healthy Hoops is a day of education for parents and for their kids with asthma, to learn how to play sports with asthma. We make sure they are taking their proper meds and proper inhalants, and the parents are getting educated, because they need to know more than the kids so that they can have the capacity to let them know what they are doing right or wrong,” Griffith described. “If you don’t do the right things and try to play sports, asthma can be detrimental to you, and we want to make sure that they can have a healthy life and do everything that people without asthma can do.”

Asthma is the most common childhood chronic disease. As common as it is to hear about growing up, it can hinder a child’s ability to live a fully healthy childhood. Asthma is the third leading cause of hospitalization among children, and as of 2007, more than 700 children living in Jefferson County, KY were identified as asthmatic.

Healthy Hoops has been putting on this event for the past seven years, and Griffith has been involved since day one.

“Mostly they learn about the different inhalants they can take and the importance of not missing their medication,” Griffith said. “The parents will learn the warning signs, because they have to be prepared to react if their children have an asthmatic attack. The training with the doctors from U of L and the volunteers from different doctors’ associations around do a good job of letting the parents know if they are good to go.”

At the Healthy Hoops event, children participate in a full day of health awareness, ranging from important asthma screenings to getting to learn the fundamentals of basketball through various drills conducted by the likes of Griffith and volunteers alike.

“We just teach them a lot of fun drills that they can interact and have fun with. The proper way to make a chest pass, bounce pass, dribbling, shooting, pretty basic skills, but it comes in handy if you don’t know,” Griffith said.

Griffith’s involvement is statement enough of the prevalence of this event and raising asthma awareness.

Born and raised in Louisville, Griffith was the number one rated high school player in the country coming out of Male High School in 1976.

He turned down contract offers to play professional basketball right out of high school, and instead, committed to Denny Crum and the University of Louisville. The six-foot-four guard went on to play four years at U of L, winning the school its first National Championship his senior year in 1980.

Griffith also went on to be Louisville’s all-time leading scorer. His 48-inch vertical jump went hand in hand with his all-time nickname, “Dr. Dunkenstein.” Griffith went on to be drafted by the Utah Jazz where he averaged 16.5 points per game in his 11-year career in the NBA.

The ultimate ambassador for U of L, Griffith understands the importance of growing up healthy and being able to participate in sports and, most importantly in Louisville, being able to participate in basketball.

“I just liked the game, liked the challenges of putting the ball through the hole. I grew up a football fan and then one day my dad put up a basketball goal on the back of our garage and everything changed for me,” Griffith recalled of his childhood days.

“Basketball is everything to this city; it’s our sports backbone, and it’s what unifies everybody from all walks of life. You come and you cheer for your high school team; you cheer for the University of Louisville. Sport plays a major part in people’s lives and especially in this community.”

Griffith could easily stay in his Bat Cave and live a calm retired life away from the attention that flocks to him, but that’s not ‘Griff’. Griffith is the ultimate Louisville ambassador and does not shy away from the busy life of using his status and good character to promote a positive living environment in The Ville.

While he can’t save the world and didn’t spare any backboards in his day, Griffith does what he can and keeps it one event at a time.

Registration for The Healthy Hoops activity is still open, and any person with an affiliation of an asthmatic child can, and is recommended to, sign up.

“A lot of kids with asthma don’t think that they can play sports,” Griffith said. “This is an opportunity to let the parents know that they can play sports if you do the things required, which is the first part of Healthy Hoops.”

Photo Courtesy Healthy Hoops