NORFOLK, VA (WTKR)- Dorian Finney-Smith has seen stardom at every level of basketball, but through it all, he's never forgotten where he's come from.
The Dallas Mavericks forward hosted his first Black Tie Gala on Friday night at the Norfolk Waterside Marriott to benefit his Finney Family First Foundation. The non-profit's mission is to encourage the youth to become active in their communities and all citizens to become productive members of society.
"It's definitely me stepping out of my comfort zone," Finney-Smith said of the gala. "It's something we've been talking about doing, but just waiting on me to pull the plug because I've got to step out of my shell and talk and get out here and meet some of these important people who have been successful in the city."
The I.C. Norcom product could not have picked a better keynote speaker for the event. Mavericks owner Mark Cuban flew in to attend the gala, with his presence attracting even more contributors to Finney-Smith's cause. Cuban said he does not speak at events such as the gala very often, only for special people.
"He's someone who worked hard," Cuban said of his forward. "He wasn't expected to be here and here he is, so when somebody can lift himself up just through their own shear hard work, you've got to respect that and when you're a great human being like Doe Doe is, I'm going to be here."
"He said [yes] without a hesitation," Finney-Smith said of Cuban. "It feels good to have your owner support you in your home town and coming to see for himself what I've been doing and how I've been giving back."
Community has always been important to the Portsmouth native. He never wants to disappear from where he came from and he's doing his part to leave his city better than he found it. Friday's gala will be followed by a free youth basketball camp on Saturday for ages 7-13 at Norcom High School.
"That's what it's about," he noted. "Go to school, learn and then come back and serve the community and that's what I'm trying to do."
Finney-Smith graduated from I.C. Norcom in 2011 after leading the Greyhounds to back-to-back state championships. He was awarded two consecutive state player of the year honors by the Associated Press and went onto play college basketball at Virginia Tech and Florida. The Portsmouth native signed with Dallas as an undrafted free agent in July of 2016. This past March, he inked a four year, $52 million extension.
"Last year I played with a little more confidence, just knowing I didn't have to look over my shoulder," he said. "My mom is good, my family's good, so now I just go out there and have fun with it."
"He's part of our culture," Cuban added. "He sets a great example, nobody works harder, nobody stays later, so it was really important to us."
Once just a kid from Portsmouth, Finney-Smith has built himself into an NBA veteran. By doing so, he's created a platform for himself to influence and contribute to the community from which he came.
"It means a lot," he said. "Coming from Portsmouth, I had never seen a professional athlete my whole life, so I just wanted to change that. This whole weekend they will see me walking around and shaking kids' hands and being approachable. I want everybody to touch me, talk to me, ask me questions, especially the kids."
This past season, Finney-Smith posted career-highs in point points per game (11.0) and minutes per game (33.0). He and the Mavericks advanced to the Western Conference Finals.