The 20-year-old NBA player visited Levels Barbershop in Clinton Hill last Thursday to pay for haircuts for more than 40 local children. Though he didn’t get a haircut –– he said only his father cuts his hair –– he wanted the students to feel good going back to school.
“Feeling fresh before you go to school, there’s no better feeling than that,” Allen said. “You feel confident in yourself and you feel more confident going into the year.”
In his second year providing back-to-school haircuts, Allen and the Brooklyn Nets worked with Children of Promise, an organization that empowers children of incarcerated parents, and the East New York-based Imagine Me Leadership Charter School.
Allen chatted with the children outside of the barbershop, and said he could tell they were a little shy, but happy about the event.
Joell Figueroa, who got a star-shaped cut, said he thought the event was “awesome.”
“If he was my dad, I would’ve asked him, can he teach me basketball forever?” Figueroa said. “I love basketball.”
Allen began his partnership with Levels Barbershop last year. The shop is just minutes from the Barclays Center and steps from the train station. Last year, Allen, then an NBA rookie, met all of the barbers who work there.
“We know each other face to face,” he said. “It’s easy to come in and talk to them.”
Kamal Nuru, owner of Levels, said they’ve had the Clinton Hill location since 2000. It’s one of seven Levels Barbershops across the city, including sites in Harlem, Crown Heights and upstate New York.
Nuru recalled that last year, Allen’s manager called him and presented him with the idea of providing back-to-school haircuts. Nuru thought it was a good idea.
“It makes sense to give back to the community and have a professional athlete come, someone the kids look up to,” he said. “We give the cuts, they give the bags and the pizza. It’s a beautiful thing.”
Levels, which has been in business since 1996, has done similar charity events, Nuru said. He added that he hopes the children walk away with more confidence heading back to school.
“We all know that self-image is important,” he said. “You come to that age where you start realizing how you look and how you feel and how people treat you.
“Your presentation means a lot, especially for a young man, to have them look good and feel good,” Nuru added, “and it takes a burden off parents for the kids to come in and get a free haircut.”
Allen said he grew up learning from his mother and grandmother how important it was to give back to the community.
“I grew up learning that you need to give a little of yourself to people that don’t have as much as you,” he said. “ I hope this teaches everyone else to give back. I hope next year, we can do an even bigger event.”
He added that he wants the students to know that people care about them.
“They’re not in this journey alone,” Allen said.