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‘It really opened up so many doors’: Legacy of CJ McCollum’s Press Pass program lives on after trade

Published: Feb. 10, 2022 at 8:39 AM PST
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PORTLAND, Ore. (KPTV) - Former Portland Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum left a lasting impact in Rip City off the court with “CJ’s Press Pass,” which offered local high school students a journalism-based mentorship program.

“Basically, CJ’s Press Pass is the foundation of my career thus far. It really introduced me to the world of sports photography and journalism, and I just found my niche and I just rolled with it,” said Jaden Coleman.

On Tuesday, the Blazers traded McCollum to the New Orleans Pelicans for a group of players and picks.

“Of course as a fan, I am devastated, but I am hoping the New Orleans treats him well and he can succeed in a different area.

McCollum’s nine seasons in Stumptown planted a seed for budding journalists like class of 2020 Hudson’s Bay graduate Coleman.

“I don’t even know if I would be a photographer right now if I hadn’t learned that I loved it because of CJ’s Press Pass,” he said.

Coleman, 20, is in his second year of taking photography and business courses at Portland Community College after his time with McCollum’s journalism-based mentorship program in 2018 when he was just a 16-year-old kid.

“When I first started, I was just a kid who loved writing and photography and I never really knew how to intertwine the two to form some type of career path,” he said. “Then I had the opportunity to join CJ’s Press Pass and it really opened up so many doors that I never thought possible.”

'It really opened up so many doors': Legacy of CJ McCollum's Press Pass program lives on after...
'It really opened up so many doors': Legacy of CJ McCollum's Press Pass program lives on after trade(Jaden Coleman)

Coleman is a freelance photographer who has been hired by the Blazers to work during Fan Fest, Media Day and the preseason, as well as concerts at the Moda Center.

“CJ gave me a level of confidence that I don’t think he is even aware of,” Coleman said.

McCollum even wrote Coleman a letter of recommendation for a journalism summer program at Stanford.

“The kindness and authenticity in that letter really gave me the drive to further on my career and it’s really helped me a lot. I go back and look at it every now and then,” he said.

Double and triple checking his facts like McCollum - a journalism major out of Lehigh University who is now a Pelican down on the Bayou.

“CJ is just a great guy. He’s been probably the most impactful mentor I think I have ever had, and it is kind of crazy because he is a basketball player and he’s the president of the NBPA [National Basketball Players Association] and he has so much on his plate, so whenever he takes the time to reach out to me and talk to me when I shoot, it’s just super appreciative,” said Coleman.