By Jim Berry

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – As a leader on and off the court, former Miami Heat player Shane Battier firmly believes that the future of our youth rests in higher education.

The Battier ‘Take Charge’ Foundation, established by Shane and his wife Heidi, is dedicated to providing resources for the development and education of underserved kids and teens.

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CBS 4 Sports anchor Jim Berry spoke with Battier about his efforts to help shape young minds.

Shane Battier carved out a very nice 13-year NBA career one that included two championships with the Miami Heat.

But all during that time, the kid from suburban Detroit was always mindful of one thing.

“It was never lost on me that if I didn’t have basketball, my opportunities would have been very limited,” said Battier.

So eleven years ago, during the height of his NBA playing days, Battier launched the Take Charge Foundation and hosted a clever karaoke fundraising event.

Battioke brought out the ham in the Heat. The notes may have been bad, but the mission was good, to raise money so that batter’s foundation could provide college scholarships to deserving high school students.

To himself, Battier issued a simple challenge, “It’s up to me to find kids who are just like me, who want to do big things, who want to change the world and give them an opportunity through a college education.”

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Over the past eleven years, the foundation Battier runs with his wife has doled out more than $2 million in scholarships.

“Being a recipient of the Take Charge Scholarship has literally meant everything,” said recipient Raqqya West.

The FIU senior is one of those scholarship recipients who is now plotting a future in environmental studies. She feels the mentoring she got from Battier’s foundation helped her chart the course.

“Before I got this scholarship, I didn’t really have any direction of what I wanted to do in life. I didn’t know how I was going to pay for college. I knew I wanted to go, I just didn’t know how I was gonna go.”

Battier’s big fundraiser has morphed into a more upscale event with a wine tasting dinner and a live auction.

Yes, there is still karaoke and Shane says when he sings, “I set the bar so low, I’m not going to be as bad as Battier, but it’s for the kids though, anything for the kids.”

Battier says he believes in the power of inspiration and for him to see students take charge is its own reward.

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To learn more about his efforts go to Battiertakecharge.org.

Jim Berry