‘‘Can everybody say ‘volatility’?’’
There are seven people in the classroom: Kendric Price, a 25-year-old basketball phenom from a rough patch of Dorchester, and six boys he is trying to save from the streets.
It’s a Saturday morning, when many 25-year-olds are sleeping off the night before and a lot of city kids are home playing ‘‘Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3,’’ because real bullets don’t fly in video games.
The boys know volatility well. They have seen it on their blocks, in their schools, in their everyday lives. They range in age from 10 to 12.
‘‘Volatility,’’ they say in unison.
Thanks to Price, a budding financial analyst, they are exploring a different kind of volatility—the type that roils the stock market, creating opportunities for savvy investors to profit. The boys, from Dorchester, Jamaica Plain, and Cambridge, have joined Price at Buckingham Browne & Nichols School in Cambridge, where he is walking them through the Xs and Os of Capitalism 101.
The 6-foot-9-inch Price, whose basketball skills landed him a scholarship at the University of Michigan, an invitation to the NBA Developmental League, and a tour with the Harlem Wizards, is developing a program to help young kids.
His inspiration is Steven Odom, a minister’s son, who was shot and killed in front of his Dorchester home by a bullet intended for someone else. Odom was 13, and Price remembers summer nights he spent sitting with the boy on his front porch, singing with his older brothers.
He honored Odom last year by playing a leading role in ‘‘The Last Shot,’’ a film based in part on the boy’s murder. And now Price, who works for a Wellesley investment firm, honors Odom again by combining his athletic ability and social conscience to help kids whose innocent eyes remind him of his slain friend.
‘‘Kendric grew up in the ’hood and recognizes that he wasn’t able to get where he is by himself, that there were other people who helped him blossom,’’ says Bill Willis, a Boston Police officer who mentored Price, wrote the script of the ‘‘The Last Shot,’’ and cast Price in the film. ‘‘He wants to give that back, and he’s only getting started. He’s going to impact many lives.’’
In the classroom on that Saturday, Price walks his young students through the terms of the financial world.
‘‘What does wholesale mean?’’ he asks.
The boys have done their homework. ‘‘Profit is gain from investment,’’ they say.
‘‘Good,’’ says Price, ‘‘now we’re financial analysts.’’
This is a pilot program, Price’s first attempt to build a volunteer organization aimed at using basketball to empower children by pulling back the curtain on some of the mysteries of making money. He is creating a non-profit to help fund his mission.
It’s heady stuff for a guy who six years ago was cited in a Globe series, ‘‘Sneaker Wars,’’ about the shoe industry exploiting young basketball stars.
Tall and talented, Price went from attending public and parochial elementary schools in Dorchester and Mattapan to entering Melrose High School through Metco.
Two years later, he was attending a basketball clinic when he was spotted by Lewis Bryant, the basketball coach at Buckingham Browne & Nichols. Soon Melrose was out, BB&N in.
Price also starred for the Metro Boston AAU team until he was lured away by an Adidas sponsored elite regional program, the New England Playaz. The exposure he gained with the Playaz helped him land a Big Ten basketball scholarship from Tommy Amaker, then the coach at Michigan.
When Amaker was dismissed from Michigan two years later, Price turned in his uniform, determined to do something too few big-time college basketball players do. He took full advantage of his scholarship, graduating in three years.
Amaker, now the head coach at Harvard, credits Price’s mother, Carol, with shaping his charitable spirit.
‘‘Kendric is a very bright and charismatic young man,’’ Amaker says. ‘‘I was happy to see how he was able to go on after I left Michigan and do the things you always recruit kids to do. He became a productive, solid citizen. I expect he will continue bringing people together to do positive things.’’
Graduating from Michigan, however, did not cure Price’s itch to play professional basketball. He signed with the Vermont Frostheaves of the American Basketball Association, then was drafted by the Iowa Energy of the NBA D-League, an affiliate of the Chicago Bulls and Phoenix Suns. When that door closed — Iowa cut him in training camp — Price joined the Wizards, touring the country as a slam-dunking, crowd-pleasing sensation known as Special K.
The Wizards experience helped Price launch the next leg of his journey. He met an event sponsor, Jay Morton, who offered him a job with his Wellesley-based wealth management firm, Morton Financial.
‘‘I decided it was time to fit into my big boy clothes,’’ Price says.
Now his dreams have evolved. He is applying to Harvard Business School, whose graduates routinely command six-figure salaries. Some work in Boston skyscrapers that glitter like distant stars to kids on the hills of Roxbury and Dorchester.
Price wants to help those kids.
‘‘I’m not saying I can change the world,’’ he says, ‘‘but I’m planning to make a difference one child at a time.’’
He leads the boys from their classroom to a bank of computers, where they research stock prices. Then he guides them through a basketball practice, followed by a lunch of pizza, lemonade, and shared wisdom.
The guest speaker is Willie Hicks Jr., who in 1988 became the first African-American quarterback at Boston College. He owns Hicks Auto Body in Dorchester with his father.
The boys pull their chairs close to Hicks. He tells them to practice self-discipline, to take responsibility for their behavior. Then he hands them each a mirror.
‘‘The next time you want to blame somebody for your actions, do yourself a favor,’’ Hicks says. ‘‘Look in the mirror, and when the mirror looks back, don’t lie to yourself. Promise me you will do that.’’
As if on cue, the boys say, ‘‘I promise.’’
They may never grow to be 6- foot-9. They may never become big-time basketball players. But they can succeed, Hicks tells them, if they persevere.
And one day, like Price, they can give back to a community that needs them.Bob Hohler can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.