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San Antonio Spurs guard George Hill

Senior’s Prom Fantasy Made Real by NBA Star George Hill

May 19, 2009 07:34 AM
by Shannon Firth
One high school senior in Indiana was planning to sit out her prom this year, but at the last minute her knight in shining, white sneakers arrived.

Celebrity Prom Dates

This past February, Kenya Simmons, a senior at Broad Ripple High School in Indianapolis, wrote to NBA player George Hill inviting him to her prom. Hill, who graduated from the same high school five years earlier, recently completed his rookie year with the San Antonio Spurs. He did not respond.

Then, just two weeks before the prom, shortly after the Spurs were eliminated from the playoffs, Hill visited his alma mater and bought tickets for himself and Simmons. When her principal told her the news, Simmons was elated. She told The Indianapolis Star, “My fantasy had come true, I started crying because I was happy.”

Her mother, Juanita Simmons, a single parent with four other children, said she and a cousin quickly gathered together a dress and accessories for Kenya. She told the Star, “[S]he is going to look pretty.”

When asked about his expectations for the dance Hill said, “I just want us to go and have fun.” His assistant will also be in attendance.

In 2006, rapper and actor Ludacris took a handicapped student to her prom. Ludacris told Contactmusic, “She wrote in a letter saying she was my biggest fan … I looked on my schedule and I found out that I was free on that day.” His only stipulation, according to the Web site, was that the event not be made into “a publicity stunt.”

And in 2002, Toby Hocking, a senior at Foothill High School in Tustin, Calif., took a former Playboy Playmate to his prom. According to The Curriculum Review, Miss December 1989 was given an essay he’d written for his college applications through a friend of his mother’s. Petra Verkaik, 35, said, “His essay was about wanting to be popular. And then not caring about being popular. And just being comfortable with who you are.” When the friend jokingly told her Hocking didn’t have a prom date, Verkaik offered to take him.

Related Topic: The nicest celebrities; who reads your fan letters?

Last Year, Village Voice writer Michael Musto made a list of his favorite celebrities, explaining, “I appreciate the celebrities who are gracious, charming, and slap you on the back, not with a restraining order.”

His list included Julianne Moore, Alec Baldwin and Rosie O’Donnell. Regarding Baldwin, he added a caveat, “I’m terrified of him… but with press, he generally lays on the charm.”

A 2004 USA Today/CNN/Gallup Poll ranked Oprah Winfrey and Tom Hanks as number one on the public’s “nice list,” with a  “90-percent-of-the-vote-tie,” according to People magazine.

But stars have help when it comes to keeping their fans happy. In April, The Wall Street Journal profiled Shelley De Angelus, the office manager of Mail Mann Inc., who is responsible for reading and filtering the thousands of fan letters sent to several movie and TV stars, including Anna Paquin, Kevin Bacon and Reese Witherspoon, as well as some of the stars of “30 Rock” and “Brothers & Sisters.”

According to the paper, celebrities pay “$250” as a start-up fee and then typically $125 a month to have letters and e-mails retrieved and dealt with in whatever manner their clients prefer.

De Angelus recalled a particularly touching letter from a young French girl. She told the Journal, “[H]er father had never acknowledged her and she didn’t have a lot of friends. She used Elijah Wood as a role model.” De Angelus sent an autographed photo in response.

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