Trae Young and his family celebrate the inauguration of the new sports center | Oklahoma

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An already excited crowd climaxed when Trae Young took to the podium.

The former Norman North and current Atlanta Hawks point guard took the stage alongside city leaders at the Young Family Athletic Center’s ribbon-cutting ceremony on Wednesday, and didn’t try to hide his excitement for the installation that bears the name of his family.

“I’m so excited for this. It’s going to be so much fun,” Young said.

There are plenty of reasons for him and the community to be excited.

The center is a Norman Forward Project, a voter-approved special sales tax initiative passed in 2015, currently estimated to cost $36 million. The namesake comes from a $4 million gift from the Trae Young Family Foundation.

When completed, the 122,000 square foot center, which will be located at University North Park adjacent to Embassy Suites, will be one of the largest athletic facilities in the area.

The facility will house eight basketball courts and 12 volleyball courts, and will include an aquatics section that will house two 25-meter pools, one with eight lanes for competition and one with four lanes for warm-up. The facility will also include NMotion, a 25,000 square foot sports and human performance center operated by Norman Regional Health Systems.

The hope is that the facility will become the hub of athletic competition in the community and an attraction for people across the state. Young focused on this aspect during his groundbreaking comments.

“It was really tough growing up as a kid and having to travel all over the country, having to go to Dallas to play in an eight-court gym or wherever,” Young said. “To be able to bring that here and run some of the biggest tournaments, Adidas tournaments, the biggest things are going to be here in Norman. It’s just special, and to me that’s all it’s about.

“I only have fun if the people around me are having fun too. That’s why I give back and that’s why the city and everything about it is so important to me.

The Young family has a lot of experience in sports travel, especially across the country. Trae even played games at the Mamba Sports Academy in California, started in 2016 by Kobe Bryant, which regularly held practices for NBA and WNBA players. The academy has also become a key venue for youth basketball tournaments.

Candice Young, Trae’s mother, mentioned the Mamba Sports Academy as an influence on her family’s vision for YFAC.

“I remember walking into this facility and being amazed by all the technology they were using and everything they were implementing,” Young said. “I think there’s so much to take from this, and to have a facility that will be available for people here, I think it’s going to be something that will surprise a lot of people here at Norman.”

Rayford Young, Trae’s father, hopes the YFAC will give young people and adults new opportunities to develop as athletes here in Norman.

“I’ve been involved in youth athletic sports ever since we moved here (in 2002), and I was the dad who bothered everyone and got everyone on edge because I told people when my son was four years old when he was going to be in the NBA,” Rayford said. “And just like when parents tell me their kid is going to be in the NBA, I encourage them because you never know. And that’s why we do this.

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