DALLAS — Actor Jamie Foxx and Gilbert Willie Jr. go way back — they regard one another as best friends. So, it makes sense that Foxx would turn to Willie in providing a gift to his hometown of Terrell.
The gift? A renovated full-size basketball court for Terrell was donated by Foxx’s charity organization. The city announced the gift on its Facebook page over the Memorial Day weekend.
“This was all from Jamie,” Willie said. “He wanted to do something for his hometown.”
The court, which features Terrell High School’s red color scheme, has Foxx’s name on the center-court surface and “Foxx Hole: Believe & Achieve” above that. “Terrell Fighting Tigers” and “Gilbert Willie Charities.” are also written near the sideline.
Willie said he did the legwork while Foxx financially backed the donation through Gilbert Willie Charities, a Mesquite-based nonprofit.
Foxx, who was born Eric Marlon Bishop, grew up in Terrell, which is about 30 miles east of Dallas, and was a quarterback for the high school football team, wearing No. 12 in tribute to his hero, Roger Staubach. Foxx is a Dallas Cowboys fan and is a regular on the sidelines in preseason training camp.
Over the years, as Foxx was prospering in Hollywood, he sponsored sports events, Special Olympics and other events in Terrell.
Willie said he approached the city and Mayor Rick Carmona in October and November about renovating the courts at Breezy Hill Park. Willie said the city will oversee the park’s maintenance.
The News reached out to Carmona via email but didn’t get a response.
The largest portion of the $170,000 to $180,000 spent for the renovation was donated by Foxx. The work included fence and concrete work and other code issues. Euless-based NexCourt designed the court itself.
“I did all the design work and the verbiage on the court, and I paid for the graphic designer, who actually did all the design work for it,” Willie said.
In a Facebook post with images of the new park, the city of Terrell wrote: “Look what’s new at Breezy Hill Park! Let’s play ball! A shout out to Jamie Foxx and Gilbert Willie Charities for making this awesome court possible!”
Foxx and the Willie family have a deep connection. Willie’s father, Gilbert Willie Sr., was a coach, teacher, principal and assistant superintendent in Terrell ISD for more than three decades. He died in 2013.
The younger Willie said he traveled to California to be with Foxx last month when it was reported that Foxx was hospitalized because of a medical complication.
Foxx’s daughter, Corrine, said this month that news about her father’s condition was blown out of proportion. Willie said he also believed the same. Foxx posted on his Instagram account that he’s continuing to recover.
Willie said the park will have a grand opening targeted for Juneteenth. He said more details will be known later.
“The park is for family enjoyment — total enjoyment for the city of Terrell,” Willie said.