Chris Dudley, a former center for the Portland Trail Blazers, has remained active in the community of Oregon long after his playing career has ended. The Oregon reporter Kerry Eggers recently wrote on Dudley’s charitable work. His yearly basketball camp for children with type 1 diabetes, will take place from July 31 to August 5 in Vernonia, Oregon.
Dudley, a 6-foot-11 center who played in the NBA from 1987 to 2003, was recognized for his defense and rebounding. He is one of only two players who have ever had diabetes yet played in the NBA.
He has overseen the Chris Dudley Basketball Camp in Oregon for 27 years straight, beginning in 1996. The one-week overnight camp for children with type 1 diabetes is the only one of its kind.
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Dudley, who played for Portland from 1993 to 1997 and again from 2001 to 2003, according to Eggers, founded the camp since there was a lack of knowledge regarding participating in sports while having diabetes.
Through the early part of his playing career, Dudley often received letters and other correspondence from kids with diabetes and their parents. With questions like, “How do you play basketball with type 1?” And, “What do you do on game day?” And, “What kind of insulin do you use?”
“I began to realize there was a strong need for a camp like ours,” Dudley say. “As we started, the diabetes component was huge, the basketball component was huge. But we soon realized another component was the development of a sense of community — a chance for kids with diabetes to know other kids are dealing with the same issues as they are. It can be difficult to have something different like diabetes. It is linked to a higher rate of depression.”
Campers will be present on-site once more this year after the COVID-19 pandemic forced the camp’s use of Zooming the previous two years. The camp is a pricey, large-scale production and is open to boys and girls between the ages of 10 and 17. In addition to the 75 campers, Eggers reported that 42 staff members, including 15 counselors, numerous doctors and nurses, a dietician, and other jobs, will be working at the camp. The Vernonia facility contains five basketball courts and has hosted notable speakers in the past, including former Blazer Brian Grant.
Dudley has dedicated his entire focus to the business for 27 years.
Dudley is not just a namesake for the camp.
“Chris is the biggest ‘kid’ out there,” says Joey Wakem, executive director of the Chris Dudley Foundation. “Camp is the highlight of his year. In many other camps run by current or retired players, the headliner is usually there a few times throughout the week for a limited time. Chris is there all week.
“He stays overnight, has meals with the campers, hangs out with them at free times and really gets to know them. I am always amazed when I talk to him about a camper sometime throughout the years; he knows exactly who I’m speaking about. This is not just a ‘camp’ to him; this is family.”
Eggers praised Dudley’s character and other charitable endeavors in the article.
Dudley, 57, wasn’t just a professional athlete. He is an Ivy Leaguer, a graduate of Yale. In 1994, he created the Chris Dudley Foundation, intended to improve the lives of diabetic children. In 1996, he donated $300,000 through the “I Have a Dream Foundation” to help cover college tuition for a class of fourth-graders at Portland’s Vernon Elementary School. That same year, Dudley won the NBA’s J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award, given for outstanding service and dedication to the community. As a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association, I’m proud to say I was the one who nominated “Duds” for the honor.
Dudley has been a financial advisory partner with Filigree Advisors since 2008, following the conclusion of his NBA career. He made a Republican run for governor of Oregon in 2010, but he was unsuccessful. He still lives with his family in Sisters, Oregon.