Kawhi Leonard towers over a PlayStation 4 console, thumbing a joystick back and forth, rhythmically jabbing buttons with the same calmness he displays defensively on the court. The controller - usually gripped comfortably by a normal sized person - looks minuscule enveloped in the large hands of the San Antonio Spurs power forward. On the screen is a competition between the Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs on NBA 2K16. Clustered around him is a group of children from the Ronald McDonald House who barely reach his knees. Kawhi stares at the game in deep concentration, occasionally offering instructions on how to play. Listening intently, one of the kids promptly drains a bucket, and a smile spreads across Leonard's normally stoic features.
"Coming out here and seeing their faces, I just remember back when I was young with my friends playing video games," Leonard said. "Looking at the players on the court and wanting to be just like them."
After returning home from the Rodeo Road Trip - and competing in a brisk, morning practice - Leonard stopped by the Ronald McDonald House to visit young patients and sign autographs for their families. For kids disinterested in the video-games, tables brimmed with various board games; the Coyote entertained by mischievously toppling Jenga blocks and challenging Ronald McDonald to a scrimmage.
"It means a lot to be in my position and to always try to give back," Leonard said. "Little kids look up to you and you just want them to know you care."
Ronald McDonald House Charities San Antonio hosts families whose children are being treated at nearby medical facilities. A nightly fee is charged, but waived if a tenant cannot afford lodging. Currently, there are two 20 family homes located within San Antonio; the city also has a 10 family home within a hospital, the first worldwide. The nonprofit has aided 5.7 million families, and establishments are found in over 60 countries.
"I'm just blessed to be here and show my face in front of these guys and be able to give them some sense of enjoyment for the few hours that I'm here," Leonard said.
"Recognizing their situations, what they're going through, I try to bring cheer to their hearts."
For more information on Ronald McDonald House Charities, click here.