NEW YORK - Not all Christmas gifts are wrapped in paper, under a tree. This gift is a basketball court in Fort Greene from New York Knicks veteran forward Taj Gibson, who was born in Brooklyn and raised in the Ingersoll Houses.
Speaking to FOX 5 NY inside the Ingersoll Community Center, Gibson described what it was like growing up there.
"It was rough, but it was still a real good community," Gibson said. "Really family-oriented and everybody looked out for everybody. I learned a lot from different families and most of the people are still there to this day."
Gibson has always given back to his community but after signing a two-year deal with the Knicks this off-season, he can now be hands-on and present with the people he wants to help.
"Now that I'm here, I always look at the basketball courts and things for the kids," Gibson said. "They weren't tended to even well enough for them to go outside and play so I just wanted to step in."
So through his foundation and the National Basketball Players Association, he refurbished the courts where he grew up playing basketball. And 10 days before Christmas, Gibson held a ribbon-cutting ceremony surrounded by dignitaries, family, friends and families that currently live in the Ingersoll Houses.
Gibson reflected on when he played on these exact courts.
"It's right in front of my old building: 95 Navy Walk. Actually, Apartment 4D. I still remember, I used to look outside my window, look at the basketball court," he said. "I used to go out there from 5 a.m. till the sun goes down."
Now a new generation can play basketball on the refurbished Taj Gibson Courts exactly where Gibson started his path to an NBA career. But it wasn't always easy.
"Different trials and tribulations, friends, childhood friends losing their lives," the 10-year NBA veteran said. "So many different things come along to get to this point and when I look back on it, I try to set the tone for this new generation so that they don't have to witness some of the things I used to see."
After giving this gift to the community, Gibson will now receive his greatest gift this Christmas: spending the holidays with his father, Wilbert, who had an emergency heart transplant in June.
"It was real tough on our family because he was the heart and soul of our family. We really didn't know if we would still have him up to this point," Gibson said. "And for him to be up kicking, moving, being his old self with a brand-new heart, thanks to the person who donated it to him. I'm super blessed."
At 34 years old, Gibson may be having his best Christmas yet.