Making Us Smile: Former Hoosier Yogi Ferrell Donates Meals to Children's Home

Tom Brew

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Yogi Ferrell has always been a fan favorite around Indiana, especially with the kids, and that's no different now that he's out in Sacramento.

It's a two-way street. Yogi loves the kids, too.

Earlier this week, Ferrell, who's been playing in the NBA four years since graduating from Indiana in 2016, donated hundreds of meals and servings of ice cream to a children's home in Sacramento. It's a charity that's been close to his heart since he arrived there two years ago to play for the Kings.

The organization, struggling to care for dozens of foster kids through the COVID-19 pandemic, really needed the help, and Ferrell, as he always does, delivered a timely assist. His donation also helped support several local restaurants and small businesses trying to survive in this difficult time.

“The Sacramento Children’s Home is such an incredible organization in our community that is also very special to me, so I am humbled to have this opportunity to help out the kids and staff there,” Ferrell told nba.com. “During these times, it is important we continue to support and look for ways we can lift one another up.”

Ferrell has jumped in to help at the Sacramento Children’s Home several times during his career with the Kings. At Christmastime, he and several teammates hosted a party for the kids. Ferrell and the Kings have also contributed to recent improvements throughout the home, including upgrades to the gym and living spaces.

According to the nba.com story, the Sacramento Children’s Home has been around since 1867 and provides care to the region’s most vulnerable children and families. From providing crisis support for families with infants and toddlers to providing short-term residential care to foster youth who have suffered trauma, Sacramento Children’s Home services focus on child abuse prevention, intervention and mental health treatment for the area’s most at-risk children and families.

Ferrell, who turned 27 on Saturday (May 9), came home to Indiana after the NBA season was postponed, but it wasn't easy getting home to his mom's house in Indianapolis.

"I flew commercial," Ferrell told Ben Stiner of The Big Lead. "I wore everything though; the mask, the gloves, I was very prepared."

And this was after his first flight got canceled. He had to change on the fly, no pun intended, bouncing from Sacramento to Denver, then to Chicago and a long Uber ride to Indianapolis instead of flying straight in.

"I had to catch a different flight and then I had to catch an Uber from Chicago to Indiana," he said.

Ferrell is in the second year of a two-year $6.2 million contract with the Kings. After a great career at Indiana from 2013 to 2016, the 6-foot point guard wasn't drafted — his size was the biggest issue – but he caught on with the Brooklyn Nets and bounced back and forth between the Nets and their G-League affiliate early in the year. He was waived, but then made the most of a break when he was signed to a 10-day contract by Mark Cuban and the Dallas Mavericks on Jan. 28, 2017. 

Ferrell had one of the most memorable runs in 10-day contract history for the injury-ravaged Mavericks. He started immediately and played six games in 10 days, averaging 16.3 points per game, including a 32-point game that was only the third-ever 30-point game by an undrafted player in the first 15 games of his career. He made nine three-pointers that night, tied for the most-ever by an NBA rookie. The Mavericks signed him immediately afterward.

He was named the Western Conference Rookie of the Month and was second-team on the All-NBA rookie team that year. He played there another year before signing with the Kings.

Ferrell and his big effervescent smile have been fan favorites in and around Indiana for years. He was a high school star at Park Tudor, where he won two Class 2A state championships, was a McDonald's All-American and a top-30 recruit for Tom Crean, the key piece of a 2012 recruiting class that was ranked No. 2 in the nation. 

During his four years at Indiana, he rewrote the Hoosiers record book. He became the school's all-time assists leader and was the first player to lead Indiana in both scoring and assists in back-to-back years since Isiah Thomas in the 1980 and 1981 seasons.

He still makes people smile.  You don't want to mess with Yogi in a game of H-O-R-S-E, either, as he proved last week in this tweet. 

He also got a laugh when the Kings and fun during the 2020 NFL Draft in late April, posting pictures of their players in football uniforms.

"Can't lie,'' he tweeted. "That jersey looks tough.''

Ferrell can't wait to get back to work, whenever that may be. The Kings were playing well before play stopped and were hoping to make the playoff. He has no idea what happens next.

"This is the most all NBA players have been in the dark about anything," Ferrell told The Big Lead. "If they do bring it back, I hope they would format it to where those teams that are right in the playoff hunt would be able to earn their way," Ferrell said.

Ferrell is still living the dream, one day at a time.

"I feel like I'm still out there trying to prove myself every single day to show that I belong in this league," he said. "And still, every single day, I'm trying to establish myself, and I'm up for the challenge, 

"I like the challenge in itself, trying to go out there and prove people wrong and make them go back on their word. I know I have many more years in the league, but it's been fun, though."

Yogi Ferrell's Senior Night Speech

  • Yogi Ferrell says goodbye to Hoosier Nation after his final home game in Bloomington in 2016. Watch the best of his senior speech here. CLICK HERE

Related stories on Indiana basketball

  • MORGAN DONATES GROCERIES IN HOMETOWN: Former Indiana forward Juwan Morgan, who's now a member of the Utah Jazz in the NBA, lent a head in his Missouri hometown, getting food for families in need. CLICK HERE
  • ON THIS DAY: On March 25, 2016, Indiana lost to North Carolina in the NCAA regional semifinals in Yogi Ferrell's final game for the Hoosiers, and they haven't danced since. CLICK HERE
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