LOS ANGELES – The UCLA men’s basketball team, its coaches and members of its support staff spent several hours on Friday morning visiting military veterans at the West Los Angeles Veterans Hospital adjacent to UCLA’s campus.
UCLA’s players and coaches visited with patients at the hospital who have served in the U.S. military and met with the hospital’s doctors, nurses and staff. Players went from room to room personally thanking vets for their service and helping to uplift their spirits.
“These outreach projects are really important for our young men,” head coach Steve Alford said. “Service in our community has always been a big part of what we do on a yearly basis. If we are able to help brighten somebody’s day, especially somebody who has served our country, I think that’s very important for our guys to be a part of.”
Some members of the Bruins’ basketball team had the chance to meet and speak with the oldest living Tuskegee airman, Walter Crenshaw, who was stationed at Tuskegee Army Air Field in Tuskegee, Ala., from 1942 to 1944 before attaining the rank of sergeant.
“It was a great experience,” sophomore Tony Parker said. “I actually got to meet the only Tuskegee Airman who is still alive, he’s 104, and I got to take my picture with him. Both of my sisters went to Tuskegee University, so that was awesome. He was a great guy. The veterans we visited definitely recognized us and liked being around our guys.”
UCLA’s visit to the Veterans Hospital came during the team’s seven-day hiatus between games. The Bruins (11-2) return to action Sunday afternoon against USC (9-4) in Pauley Pavilion. Game time is 12 p.m. Sunday’s Pac-12 game will be nationally televised on Fox Sports 1.