About a month before training camp, Taj Gibson was on the basketball court at a gym in Fort Greene. He wasn’t there to workout or get shots up, though.
He was there to spend yet another afternoon with a group of kids from Fort Greene, his old Brooklyn neighborhood.
“I’m here pretty much every day,” Gibson said.
And that’s not a hyperbole.
Gibson spent the majority of his offseason in Fort Greene and at the Knicks facility in Westchester. He was serving as a mentor in both locations.
At the team facility, Gibson was guiding some of the young Knicks.
At the gym in Fort Greene, Gibson was guiding some of the young members of his neighborhood.
“It’s always good to give back. But it’s more than just giving back,” Gibson said that day at the gym. “I’m looking at the deeper issue of it because I understand this is the next generation. These are the next ones in the community.”
For the past 13 years, Gibson has focused on working with local kids through his foundation, The Taj Gibson Foundation. The foundation’s focus is to provide mentorship to young children in Brooklyn and beyond.
His foundation has organized food drives, holiday celebrations for those in need and had a steady, year-round presence for kids seeking mentorship.
I created the foundation with the people I grew up with. Tameek Floydthe foundation’s outreach coordinator, suggested early on that the group focus on mentorship in addition to athletics.
“You’ve got to start giving the kids something tangible. Life lessons. So this is more than athletics,” Floyd said. “We just use events like this to get their attention and then we teach them and we mentor them and we try to mold them to be good people first, basketball players second.”
The message has resonated with 14-year-old Jahzir Crawford. Crawford has been with the foundation for the past three years.
“We really want to get around him because he has a lot of potential,” Floyd says.
Crawford’s potential as a basketball player is clear. He’s one of the city’s top players in the 2026 class. But his potential as a community leader is just as strong.
Crawford lost his father, Jamor, when he was five years old. Jamor was fatally shot. Jahzir Crawford hopes to use his experience in the aftermath of his father’s death to help others.
He wrote the book, A Better Tomorrowin memory of his late father and with the hope that the book can help other children who are grieving.
“Jahzir’s a special talent,” Gibson says.
The Knicks veteran hopes that his foundation can help Crawford reach his goals.
“He really wants to go to college, he really wants to do things well,” Gibson said. “And he says these things to us. So we try to make sure we can give him all the opportunity we can. That’s the main thing. Bringing more opportunity to the neighborhood.”
Crawford said he’s benefited from his time with the Gibson foundation.
“They treat us like family, they just want to make sure you’re comfortable,” said Crawford, who plays with the New Heights AAU program. “Honestly, they just want to keep you off the streets and do good things in the community.”
Gibson has played with the Knicks for the past two seasons under Tom Thibodeau. He helped mentor young players throughout the club’s playoff season in 2020-21 and their struggles in 2021-22. He’s also given the Knicks a lot on the court, serving as a starter or backup throughout his Knicks tenure.
Thibodeau often lauds Gibson as a true professional, a player who is ready to do whatever’s asked of him.
“You never have to worry about Taj,” Thibodeau says. “He’ll give you everything he can, whatever you need.”
Gibson’s taken the same approach in his community. Like his presence in the court, Gibson’s impact with him through his foundation may sometimes fly under the radar, but it’s always impactful.
“He’s a silent hero,” Floyd says. “He doesn’t need accolades, he just wants to impact lives.”