Not everyone has the luxury of traveling home to celebrate the holidays with family and loved ones each year. For many, the holidays can simply be a reminder of what they don't have -- especially for underprivileged youth. That's why Miami Heat center Chris Bosh takes time out of his busy holiday season schedule every year to throw his annual "Christmas with Chris Bosh," put together by Bosh's foundation, "Team Tomorrow."
This year more than 150 youngsters were treated to an early Christmas surprise when Bosh showed up to hang out, chat, play video games and give away Christmas gifts galore at GameTime, a restaurant and video game arcade in South Miami.
The kids, who were invited from such organizations as Chapman Partner Homeless Shelter, Big Brothers of America and The Boys & Girls Club of Miami, only knew that they would be hanging out, eating lunch and playing video games -- so it was quite a shock when the Miami Heat big man himself showed up. Although, despite the event's title, Bosh wasn't clad in a Santa suit -- they couldn't find a costume to fit his 6'11" frame.
"It's pretty tough to find a Santa suit in my size," Bosh said, laughing. "But I told the kids, next time if they want me to dress up as Santa we'll figure it out."
And judging by the kids' reactions, Bosh's lack of Santa gear wasn't a problem.
"They were pretty excited," Bosh said, "the kids lit up pretty quickly. We really got everything going, the energy really went through the roof. It was really just a special feeling to know that they were excited to see me."
This year was the third annual iteration of the event as Bosh continues to try add some joy to young kids' lives.
"I try to get around to every kid and make sure I say hello," he said, "and just talk to them for a little. Kids are funny man, they have really good questions sometimes. They wanna know certain things -- how it is playing with LeBron and Dwyane, how it is playing basketball and all these things."
Girls, Bosh said, ask how tall he is, and boys ask if he plays as himself in video games. Bosh's answer for the boys is no, he doesn't even play basketball video games anymore.
Growing up, Bosh attended a plethora of camps and events similar to the event he throws today, and Bosh said that the people who threw and attended those events, along with his parents, made him who he is today.
"I don't know if guys knew it or not, but their time in helping me out was a big reason why I am the way I am today," Bosh said. "I still remember and appreciate those things. It was a huge part of my childhood."
The charity he was witness to and received as a child started Bosh on the path towards giving back once he was established and able as an adult.
"I just try to give that sense of charity to other kids so that hopefully one day when they're successful they'll do the same thing for other children and just keep on giving back," he said. "It just seems natural, it seems right."
Bosh's presence, however, wasn't the only present. There was a pop-up-shop, called "Santa Bosh's Workshop," where kids were allowed to "go shopping" for presents, with products donated by Nike, Levi, Lacoste, Hasbro, Skylanders Giants, McMillian Books, the Miami Heat, Divine Delicacies, See Ya Sunglasses and The Frieze Ice Cream.
The kids certainly appreciated it. One 11-year-old boy, Joshua, who is currently in foster care with his 14-year-old brother, was nearly too excited for words.
"I am so excited right now," he said. "I got my glasses, I got my Heat headband and I got my new shoes. I got everything!"
"We just want to give them something they can walk home with for Christmas," Bosh said.