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Elton Brand Comes Home For Peekskill Celebration

PEEKSKILL, N.Y. – Peekskill High School’s most famous graduate returned Saturday to the gymnasium where his career started to help give a little back.

Elton Brand attended Duke University and the NBA after graduating Peekskill High in 1997 before being drafted No. 1 by the Chicago Bulls. He later played for the Los Angeles Clipper for seven seasons and just completed his third year with the Philadelphia 76ers.

The event, sponsored by Brand’s Foundation, had approximately 250 young people, ages 7-15 to participate in the 30-minute clinic, conducted by Peekskill High School Coach Lou Panzanaro.

“About eight years ago the mayor made a proclamation declaring it Elton Brand Day in Peekskill because of the success he was having in his NBA career and he decided to do a basketball clinic for all the youth of Peekskill and the surrounding communities and he’s been keeping it alive for the last eight years,” Panzanaro said

The annual event involves quite a bit of planning, Panzanaro said.

“We start around March, contacting the NBA and the 76ers, so we make sure we get the autographed pictures of Elton and the shirts and bags,” Panzanaro said. “Elton autographs the shirts and talks to all the kids. It’s just a great day. It shows the character he has that he continues to do this year in and year out.”

Brand said he looked forward to the event all year as he took time to autograph shirts for hundreds of young fans. “This is where I started and it’s for love that the city has shown me,” Brand said. “It gives me energy -- it’s a Peekskill Celebration, so to be part of it is always an honor.”

Brand said he usually returns to the city a couple of times each summer to visit friends and family.

“It’s like an energy boost, to see the old hometown and the people that helped foster my growth growing up,” he said.

To see dozens more photos from Saturday's event, check out our Flickr.com photo set here.

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