Bennedict Mathurin was at the Henri-Bourassa school in Montreal-Nord to educate about twenty student-athletes on the harmful effects of vaping and provide some advice on their game. The NBA player brought smiles, lessons and above all many cameras and admirers.

Throughout the hour-long exercise, it was all about the neighborhood native.

Picture here, picture there. Bennedict here, there. His power of attraction was so great that a handful of young people gathered in front of the gymnasium window, curious to see the star of the Indiana Pacers at work.

Mathurin has been so in demand that everyone who has gravitated around the 6’5″ guy has incidentally become a public figure. “We’re going to be famous!” exclaimed one of the student-athletes to his friend after doing a television interview with one of the many media present.

Despite being propelled to superstar status, Mathurin maintained that he is “still the same” as the one who grew up on Dagenais Street.

He also took advantage of his return to Montreal to stop at a Montreal Alliance game and moved to an IGA in his hometown. Everywhere he went, he offered smiles – talk to the student-athletes this Tuesday morning. However, he claimed that it is a feeling that goes both ways.

“It gave me a big smile to come here,” he said. His only regret is that he “didn’t make many shots.” “So I’m going to hit the gym this afternoon. »

In addition to giving advice on the technical level, the Quebecer went there with some recommendations on life in general. First, choose your close guard carefully.

“Where I grew up, it was difficult,” admitted Mathurin. Some people around me were smoking and vaping. For me, it’s like I have blinders on. I cannot thank my sister enough who always guided me on the right path, that of school and not that of the street. I did not deviate from my goal.

“The main thing is to have a good group of friends, one who wants the best for you. You have to know who wants to help you and who doesn’t. »

Moreover, the school he visited is in the heart of his neighborhood. “I know what the difficulties are, because I too grew up in Montreal North. I know that I can be an authority figure especially for those who come from here. »

However, Mathurin knows very well that very few of them will one day reach the NBA, which is why he suggests that students be diligent in their studies.

“Until I was 15, I wanted to go to college,” the 20-year-old recalled. I wanted to do four years in college and graduate. My sister often teases me and reminds me that I don’t have a degree, but I would have liked that. For those who say it’s the NBA or nothing, I’m like, ‘Woah. Don’t go from A to Z. You don’t have to skip steps B, C. You have to remember where you come from. »

Where he comes from is also fertile ground for NBA players. Chris Boucher, Luguentz Dort and he are all athletes from Montreal North who have reached the highest peak. A safe bet that their successors will have been inspired by these players.

“Lu [Luguentz Dort] and I work very hard to give back to the city, and it’s important to continue to be inspiring role models,” concluded Mathurin.