Miami Heat

Heat’s Shane Battier surprises 17 Miami Central students with college scholarships

There’s a reason Shane Battier dressed up as Lady Gaga at his annual karaoke event in March. There’s a reason he pulls a similar stunt every year.

To raise money for scholarships for underprivileged youth.

The former Heat forward and current Heat vice president of basketball development and analytics surprised 17 high school sophomores at Miami Central High on Wednesday morning with four-year Florida prepaid scholarships and acceptance into The Battier Take Charge Foundation’s GUIDE (Giving Underserved Individuals Direction in Education) program. It’s the scholarship program’s third year of existence at Central High.

“I was those kids we’re going to talk to today,” Battier said before he and his wife, Heidi, surprised the 17 students during a ceremony held in the school auditorium. “I was a kid who had drive, who had big dreams of doing something with my life. I didn’t have the opportunity. So I made a pledge when I was young that if I ever make it to the big show, I’m going to use my platform and my name to give opportunity to deserving kids. That’s why we’re here today. We’re here to give away 17 college scholarships to some amazing, amazing kids who just need a shot.”

Through the GUIDE program, the students are offered mentors, tutors, writing workshops, college guidance counselors and any support they need to prepare them for college. In return, the students sign a contract in which they commit to maintaining a minimum GPA, meeting regularly with their mentors and graduating with a high school diploma.

“It means a lot,” said Eric Harden, who is one of this year’s 17 scholarship recipients. “It means I have less to stress about and that means I can focus more on my work.”

Battioke, Battier’s annual karaoke event, raised more than $150,000 this year to help pay for the scholarships in partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters Miami, Take Stock in Children and the Stanley G. Tate Florida Prepaid Scholarship Program.

The 17 students were chosen from a pool of 45 applicants.

“It’s important because I think we all have a responsibility to make our communities better,” Battier said. “Whether you give your money, whether you give your energy, whether you give your time, whether you give your talents, we’re all in this together. So there are a lot of people who need help, and it’s up to all of us. What we’re doing is not anything extraordinary. We’re just doing our part and we hope we inspire others to get involved and do their part as well.”

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Anthony Chiang covers the Miami Heat for the Miami Herald. He attended the University of Florida and was born and raised in Miami.