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Former NFL Player, Xbox surprise troops

Former Philadelphia Eagle receiver Hank Baskett aims to give back to those who serve

Hank Baskett, a former NFL player and partner of Gaming and Entertainment Mobile Systems, holds one of the newest members of the military family in Waller Hall at Joint Base Lewis-McChord April 25. Photo credit: Sgt. Kyle Larsen

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A former NFL football player broke up the routine of Joint Base Lewis-McChord's in- and out-processing center April 27 when he made a surprise lunchtime appearance, bearing free Xboxes for soldiers.

Former Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver, Hank Baskett, distributed 60 of the game systems, along with accessories, donated by Microsoft Headquarters in Redmond.

Baskett, who has now partnered with electric hardware manufacturer Gaming and Entertainment Mobile Systems, grew-up in a military household and witnessed firsthand the sacrifices made by servicemembers and their families.

"My father served in the Air Force for 30 years, my brother was in the Army for 13 years and my mother was civil service for 44 years," said Baskett. "That is why I am so adamant about always giving back to the men and women who serve."

Giving back to the community is a big part of Baskett's life. In addition to taking time to meet with servicemembers, he is the spokesman for the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation and the Griffen Gives Foundation.

Though these foundations hold great value in his life, Baskett said giving back to the men and women who serve this country holds a special place in his heart.

Baskett said connecting with Microsoft and Xbox to provide specialized care packages including Xboxes, headphones, controllers and videogames to the soldiers of JBLM gave him great pride.

"A bunch of the friends I grew up with joined the service," said Baskett, who smiled as the line at Waller Hall grew and snaked throughout the building. "They told me that when they're in hostile environments and get to game, it gives them that mental break to get away from what they are doing, even if it is just for a little bit, it gives you that sense of home."

The babbling voices of the gathering servicemembers grew to a roar as excited soldiers and airmen lined the lobby waiting for their chance to meet Baskett and receive their care packages.

Servicemembers spend so much time away from home they often look for ways to bring home to them, said Josey Hunt, an infantryman with 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment. They often use entertainment to achieve that feeling of home. This can range from watching American programming on the American Forces Network to playing videogames. The gifts donated by Microsoft reminded Hunt of his first deployment to Iraq in 2006.

"When I wasn't on shift doing tower guard, checkpoints or (Quick Reaction Force), I was using the Internet to play videogames that I got from the PX (Post Exchange)," said Hunt. "Ultimately, it was what helped me get my stress levels down and forget that I was in Iraq. It gave me some semblance of being back home."

Having played in the NFL gives Baskett a platform that not many have and he fully acknowledges this.

"I know the opportunities I had to play football and a lot of the things I am able to do on a daily basis are because of the men and women that fight overseas," said Baskett.

Baskett's own love of videogames coupled with his admiration for, and relationship with, the Armed Forces made this event the perfect opportunity to show his appreciation.

"I love going to the different installations and being able to give back," said Baskett.

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