Last week, the Golden State Warriors’ Steph Curry held his seventh annual basketball camp for 26 elite high school basketball athletes in downtown San Francisco, CA at the Olympic Club.
The camp was hosted by Curry Brand and Under Armour and led by an all-star coaching staff, including Curry and UConn rising sophomore Azzi Fudd. In addition, the 26 hand-selected male and female players were coached during the five-day camp by Curry’s former high school and college coaches, current and former NBA players, and Curry’s own personal trainer.
This marks a full circle moment for Fudd, who was an early participant at Curry Camp in 2018, being only one of two women to receive the select invitations that year. Ever since Fudd’s first camp, the two have continued to develop their relationship, and just last year Curry signed her to his SC30 Inc. brand as a part of a name, image, and likeness (NIL) deal after the recent NCAA rule changes.
Outside of basketball, both Curry and Fudd play Wordle, and in case you’re wondering about their strategy, Curry starts off with a different word, while Fudd has a favorite go-to word when playing. They both immediately named Love & Basketball as their favorite sports movie, and as for guilty pleasures, Fudd talked about how she loves “strawberries and Nutella. I could eat that anytime of the day,” with Curry also admitting to having the “biggest sweet tooth…just any candy.”
At Curry Camp, the energy on the court was palpable—each player gave their all, moving from drill to drill with extreme finesse, eager to show off their athletic prowess.
This year, ESSENCE was on hand, watching courtside as Curry and Fudd worked out alongside the players and trained them while NBA scouts looked on. We sat down with them both to talk about the camp, Black excellence, and life off the court.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
ESSENCE: This is the seventh year running, what inspired you to start the camp?
Curry: The inspiration around this was finding a way to continue to impact the next greatest high school athletes. When I was in college, I got invited to Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, and Paul Pierce’s camps, and I got a little bit of access to the three of them. When I got to this level, the opportunity to have my own camp was pretty special, to invite the next greatest kids that I knew were going to be trying to play professional basketball at some point and give them a little bit of what I know. It’s been exciting to see it grow over the last seven years, to now have Azzi here with the 26 athletes, and we’re giving them not just the basketball skill set, but some perspective outside of the court. It’s been awesome, so hopefully it will continue for a very long time.
ESSENCE: Can you both tell me more about your mentor-mentee relationship?
Curry: Azzi and Cameron Brink were the first two high school girls ever invited to camp back in 2018, and Azzi was obviously a top prospect in high school. When she came to camp, she was by far the best shooter, girl or boy, and scrimmaged against some of the guys in a couple sessions, and was a standout the whole time. I obviously kept tabs on how she finished high school and going to UConn. From my perspective, with NIL opportunities and finding ways to invest in the game, Azzi was an easy choice in terms of somebody you want to get behind and support, not just with who she is as a basketball player, but how she sees the world, her family, how they carry themselves and just the opportunity to give back to the next generation of hoopers. [I wanted to] find ways to support the platform that she’s created, and is going to continue to create. So, it started in 2018, and now she’s part of the family officially.
Fudd: From my perspective, the first year I was invited to camp I was trying to contain my excitement and how happy I was just to be there. The guys, this was usual for them, they’re all too cool. I had always been a fan of Steph’s, but you see these famous athletes, and you think they’re not real people, they’re too cool to do all these things with you. But he was just hopping in the drills with us and giving us tips, he was just so involved and that was amazing to me. He was just like one of us. That was a really cool thing for me to see his involvement and engagement with us. Getting invited back the next year, and now being able to be a part of it, is such an honor. Looking back now, just getting to be under his wing and learn from him has been an incredible experience. I’ve really enjoyed building the relationships, not just with him but with this whole team.
ESSENCE: What does Black excellence mean to you?
Curry: It’s understanding the barriers and history that exclude us from a lot of different positions of leadership, power, success, and just embracing that and overcoming obstacles while being authentically you in the process and finding ways to move the needle and trailblaze your own path.
ESSENCE: Aside from your impressive three-point shots, you are known for shimmying on the court. How did you come up with your shimmy?
Curry: Naturally, just enjoying what I do. I’m a kid at heart, and I hope to maintain that for as long as I can. It’s just about the right energy and joy on the court, loving what I get to do, that I know I’m blessed to be able to do it. There’s also a little influence from one of my coaches, Mark Jackson, who used to do his own version of a shimmy back when he played.
ESSENCE: You’ve got quite the family. How competitive does family game night get?
Curry: Every day is competition in our family. Growing up, it didn’t matter what it was, whether it was board games or video games or shooting HORSE in the backyard, whatever it was, there was always a sense of tremendous competition. Now, everybody is all over the country, but we still find that when we get together, we pick up right where we left off. It’s just a part of our nature, we hate losing to each other, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
ESSENCE: Speaking of family, how did you know your wife was the one?
From our first date to when I proposed, there’s a point where you just get to where you can’t see your life without her, and now I’m getting emotional here. We complement each other so well, and just celebrated 11 years.
ESSENCE: Going back to basketball, we recently lost Bill Russell. What impact has his legacy had on you?
Curry: Neither one of us is sitting here if he didn’t do what he did in his career, not just because of what he did in basketball, but in terms of the times that he played in, the hatred, the racism, the adversity, facing it his entire life, and especially during his playing days. Had he not been the man that he was and pushed through everything he had to, I don’t know if the NBA is in the space it is. It had trickle down effects to the rest of the basketball world. So, we’re all eternally grateful for who he is and was, what he meant to the game, and what he meant to society.
ESSENCE: Why do you think it’s important to have camps like this and be involved in community affairs?
Curry: I grew up with my parents making that a point of emphasis from the jump. We all have blessings and things that we can offer. For some of us its financial, some of us it’s your time, some of it’s your expertise in whatever field. They always found a way to make sure that we made that a priority, and so I’ve carried that perspective ever since. Every blessing I get, every level that I reach, I still carry that responsibility and want to find ways to create opportunity or look out for the next generation because even if I knew it, or I didn’t know it, I had people doing that for me. There’s so much talent, in terms of gifted kids that have so much to offer the world, but the opportunity really isn’t there, so trying to find different ways and creative ways to open doors for others.
Fudd: I think for me, I’ve been given so many amazing opportunities by people and kind of like what he said, giving time. I’ve always told myself that I want to be that person, and hopefully I make it to the next level. That’s my goal. But even in high school, not many alums would come back, and I always tell myself I want to come back, I want to give back to this program and see them flourish and thrive, and see the game grow and leave it better than how I found it because that’s what people before me did for me.