NBA star turned dentist? Nashville native Brandan Wright helps kids smile
Former NBA player and Nashville native Brandan Wright partners with Neighborhood Health and Delta Dental to become a Celebrity Dentist for a Day.
Victor Prieto, Nashville Tennessean
Throughout his life and 10-year NBA career, Brandan Wright was simply known by his name.
On Wednesday, however, the 6-foot-10 Nashville native was known as Dr. Wright.
Partnering with Delta Dental and Neighborhood Health, the former Memphis Grizzlies and Dallas Mavericks player was the star of the “Celebrity Dental Day” at Nashville’s Napier Clinic.
The former NBA forward sported a white lab coat while ushering kids throughout the health clinic all morning.
“It’s very intimidating to walk into a doctor setting or dentist’s office,” Wright said. “All you think about is needles, pain, you know, all that stuff associated with a doctor. But those things can be momentary compared to something that could happen down the line if you have a serious situation.”
Neighborhood Health has three dental clinics among 14 medical clinics throughout Tennessee. Team Brandan Wright, Delta Dental and Neighborhood Health provided free dental screenings and oral healthcare for kids of all ages Wednesday morning.
The yearly event would typically bus kids from organizations such as the Boys and Girls Club, but this year was shifted to a walk-in format after not being able to bus kids because of COVID-19.
More than 30 kids attended Wednesday’s event. Each patient was given a hygiene kit from Delta Dental and a backpack from Team Brandan Wright, his charitable foundation. Dr. Michele Blackledge, dental director of Neighborhood Health, and her team at the Napier Clinic welcomed anyone interested in a complementary checkup from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
“Some of these kids might be 13, 14 (years old) and have never been to a dentist,” Blackledge said.
Wright agreed with Blackledge’s sentiment, hoping his involvement would help encourage kids to be more involved when it came to their health. His foundation has instructed children about the importance of health, especially in athletics.
“We already do a lot with the the physical health, mental health, emotional health … it made sense to add dental health,” Wright said. “Hopefully we can educate kids and adults, even, of the proper things to do with their mouth, and how to create a beautiful, healthy smile.”
In addition to offering the dental service, the event offered free burgers and hot dogs, games, a photo opportunity with Marshall Molar and a chance to shoot hoops with Dr. Wright.
A four-time state champion with Brentwood Academy and a three-time winner of Tennessee’s Division II Mr. Basketball, Wright created the Team Brandan Wright foundation to teach girls in the grades 7-12 throughout Tennessee and surrounding states to play basketball. His teams coach more than 140 girls, hoping to help them get a free education through the sport.
“We just stick our hand where it’s needed,” Wright said. “We do programs with inner city communities, anything we can do to try to help and raise awareness to try to put something on the map.”