MIAMI — Shane Battier’s playing days are behind him, but his work is not done.
On Thursday, Shane and his wife Heidi surprised 21 Miami Central High School students with four-year college scholarships. It marks the first class of students in the Battier Take Charge Foundation’s new GUIDE program.
“Excuse me, I’m a little emotional right now because to see the look on the kids’ faces,” Battier said with tears in his eyes minutes after delivering the good news to the students. “They’ve been told, ‘no,’ so many times. It’s great for somebody to say, ‘Yes, you do have a chance.’ I was in a similar situation and I was lucky to have basketball to be my ticket. But a lot of kids don’t have a ticket. To give them that chance, it means a lot to me.
“There are so many kids in our community that just need a chance. I wish we could give them all scholarships. We’re going to fight like heck to grow this program and we think this is just the start. It’s a small start, but it’s an important start.”
The 38-year-old Battier — a Michigan native — has made Miami his home after playing three seasons with the Heat from 2011-14 and winning two NBA titles with the organization in 2012 and 2013. Along with Battier’s work in the community, he’s also staying busy in the basketball world.
Battier was named the Heat’s Director of Basketball Development & Analytics in February. According to the team’s press release issued at the time of his hiring, his role will “include the development of analytics in evaluating all talent, including college, free agents and current Miami players.”
In April, Battier was named the athlete representative on the USA Basketball Men’s Junior National Team Committee.
“With USA basketball, it’s fun,” Battier said. “It’s a way to stay connected to the game. It’s a game that’s been great to me and that I’ve loved. It’s a new challenge.”
When evaluating talent, Battier said he wants “good people and good players.” How big of a role will analytics have in his evaluation process?
“We’re learning,” Battier said when asked that question. “We’ll see. I can’t answer that question right now. We’ll figure that out.”