"For everyday or minute that you're not working, some other player is outworking you" ~ Sharone Wright
If there is any post you take a moment to read, this is the one. I want to introduce you to one of the most remarkable people I have ever met, and let me tell you, I have met some amazing people in my life time.
At the end of this post, there will be an opportunity for you to make a difference. For once, I can honestly say - this is the way to do it. I rarely offer my services, or donate, or do anything that I do not believe in 100%. I don't endorse products or write reviews... that is .. unless I know, without a doubt, it's for real.
I grew up in Macon, Georgia. It's a big town in the heart of middle Georgia. I consider myself to be very lucky to have gone to high school with so many amazing people from so many different backgrounds. The class of 1991 from Southwest High School created some of the most amazing adults. Most of the kids that went there completely defied the odds. Heck, we all did. The odds were stacked against us from the start.
One of my favorite success stories from my High School is my friend, Sharone Wright. I have identified a couple of people in my life that I wanted to profile - and Sharone was one of them. Without further delay, here is my interview with the gentle giant, known as Sharone:
Nicole: Sharone, let's start at the very beginning. Tell me a little bit about where you grew up. I know we went to the same school - but what side of town did you live on, and what was your home situation like?
Sharone: I grew up In Macon, Georgia.. on the west side. My neighborhood is called Unionville. Its grimey, crime infested and tough. It has its good sides too.
I was a shy kid and I was always clinging to my brother. My mom and dad were separated so Dad wasn't around at all. My immediate family was my mother , my brother, cousin, aunt and granny. we all lived in a 3 bedroom house, it was sooo packed . My grandmother worked odd jobs and so did my mom. Money was hard to come by. We scratched and clawed for everything that we got. I learned how to struggle yet to survive . The thing about Macon though , its a good small town and it has great places to raise a family.
Nicole: That's true. Macon is an interesting town. I agree, I am glad I grew up there. Sounds like you had a tough go of it - but your family did the best they could. Very typical situation for a lot of kids we grew up with. Okay... When did you discover your love of basketball, and how did you get started?
Sharone: I was a late bloomer . I had always played the game but not at a high level.
When I was 7, I went to the Jeff Malone Basketball camp . He was a local star in the NBA and one day I would be drafted and play with him on the same team!
He was actually from my neighborhood. Still I needed to get my coordination good. I was a clumsy kid who really needed to be worked with. Other kids teased me about being soo much taller than them. They made me feel horrible and made it seem to be a bad thing to be tall. I would pray to God to make me shorter . Everyday I'd walk the halls at Matilda Hartley elementary, and I was picked on.
Then, one day I was walking up Anthony road and former LA.Laker Myles Patrick saw me and talked me into working with him. I was 8 years old. He molded my game and gave me the skills and toughness to get better.
Nicole: WOW. That's amazing. Talk about divine intervention. Yeah, kids are tough. I guess we all got bullied in some way or the other, and kids can be so cruel. Clearly God had another plan for you! Considering everything you went through, I have to ask - Were you a good kid, or did you get into a lot of trouble?
Sharone: I was always into stuff because I always felt that I had to try to belong to something. We had gangs in my neighborhood and also cliques. These cliques were like groups of the "In crowd." I never fit in.
SO I started acting out and doing bad things. Basketball in a way saved my life. I was not a trouble maker but it could have escalated into that. Minor scraps with the Law.
School was great at Ballard and Southwest High. I had a ball.
Nicole: Yep - now that is where I met you! Now, I know you were a big time basket ball star as a teen, how did that happen? Who do you credit your success to?
Sharone: I was a JV player my first year at SWHS. Only because our program was soo good and they had no room. I was that kid that was oozing with potential by that time . I actually thought that I should have been a starter that year as a freshman. So that drove me to just work my butt off.
All of my hard work started to pay off during my sophomore year. I was a big part of our team and we were state champs that year. It was the beginning of the best times. I started getting recognized for my skill and my talent. I was everywhere it seems. Parade all-american, Mcdonalds All American, All state player, etc etc. I credit my high school coach for bringing me along when he did. He didn't hold me back but he molded me the way I needed to be molded. Don" Duck" Richardson. He made me the player that I was.
Nicole: Coach Richardson is legendary for sure! And a really tough coach! You definitely landed in the right place. So what happened after high school? Tell me about the college years.
Sharone: During my high school Soph, Junior and Senior seasons, I was recruited by almost 45 different schools. All wanting me to come to their schools to play.
I decided on Clemson University because of their conference and the history of players before me to go to the NBA that played my position as well. It was a match made in Heaven.
I chose Clemson over Duke, USC, Tennessee, Syracuse, NC.State and Georgia Tech. Clemson is a great little college town with a big student body that's diverse and powerful. I learned alot there and I still go back because recently I was inducted into the Clemson University Athletic Hall Of fame. Its just a family atmosphere. I hated to leave there but the NBA was calling.
Nicole: Congrats on the Hall of Fame! WOW. Sooo.. here's where your career takes off. Tell me more about how you became this big Basketball Star!
Sharone: My years at Clemson were awesome individually. I led the conference in 3 statistical categories in all of my three years there. I was also projected to go very high in the NBA draft so I decided to go after my third year of playing. I was drafted 6th overall in the 1994 NBA draft. It was the greatest day ever for my family! I was drafted by Philadelphia .Instantly everything changed.
Nicole: How did success change you?
Sharone: I tell people all of the time that life changes each day and so do circumstances. But if you give 2 millions dollars to a poor kid from the ghetto and ask him not to change, your in for a bad time. Everything changed . Not my heart and not my mind. I was still the same old Sharone. Cars, Money, Homes - that all changed but my personality and my way of thinking did not.
Nicole: :-) That's good to hear. Now, I hear you have a very large family. Do you mind sharing some things about your personal life?
Sharone: Actually at the time I was freshly divorced from my first wife and things were not going well for me mentally. I was in bad state because of a lot of things. I wanted a new start.
I made a deal to take my kids to school every day until the season started again. I have this habit of barbecuing for my kids a lot. They love grilled food so I was in Kroger, in Alpharetta and while walking down the isle , I spotted this gorgeous woman. So I made it my business to keep going down each aisle that she was on. Finally after 20 minutes of this I got up the nerve to say some thing to her. We stopped at the vegetable section and talked for 3 hours just standing there.We talked about where we wanted to go , how things were with each other. Mind you that we didn't know each other yet... but it felt like Id known her for years.
Brandi was just the best thing to ever happen to me. She made my life more simple and she made it calm. Before her I was just a train wreck in some lights. From that day on we have been inseparable. It was the start of my life again. I was in love from then on. Brandi and I have been together since that day. We have 4 kids. Justice(14) Sharone jr(11) Nicholas(4) and Thijs(1). Thanks to You Kroger.(smile)
Nicole: That is the coolest love story!! I bet she is incredible! Now I want to talk about something that you are doing for our community back home. You are offering a basketball camp.. why? What is the purpose. Last I heard you live in Los Angeles, why come back home and help our old community?
My camp is now 14 years old. It started back when I was first traded to the Toronto Raptors .
I wanted to give the kids some thing to look forward to. It really was not based in education the way it is now but we wanted to make sure that we incorporate learning.
The first years were very difficult because we found that it was hard actually giving a free camp;. Soo many people were not using the camp in the right way. They were just dropping their kids off and leaving and saying "oh well."
We had lots of NBA speakers and loads of good things going on. Macon Attorney Virgil Adams was a big supporter of my camps back then and so was the city. We made it the happening thing in the summer. But just when it was about to go really big I stopped it because I was playing in Europe at the time and it was hard to get back and set up things .
So i cancelled it for a number of years until further notice. People started asking alot about it and wondering when I would do it again. I told the city of Macon that I would start it again on one promise. That there must be education involved and Mentorship as well.
Right now I'm a NBA scout for 3 different teams and I am a Coach in Europe.My plan is to get to the NBA as a coach and ultimately a General Manager. I have a super training company in California where I live called Power Forward Skill camps and Training. So I'm very busy most of the year. With my travel I really have learned to embrace other cultures and ways of life. Ive been all around the world and the simple things we take for granted in America are for sure taken seriously. Customs, religious freedom, taxation, Democracy. All of these things are not fruitfully given in most countries that Ive been to.
Nicole: That's simply amazing. I was so inspired by what you are doing, I made a donation to your scholarship program. With all of these good deeds, I have to ask - Who do you look up to?
I think the people I look up to are my children. They are warriors, they share their father with his job. Its not easy for them .Everything I do is for them.
My motto is as it always has been. When I was a kid and growing into my body , I would tell myself this every day."for every day that I am not working, Some other player is out working me. " I really still live by this. Its what got me where I am today.
My advice for young people who are dreaming of playing in the NBA is take no time off. You have to really want this. Its not gonna be handed to you. There are just over 400 NBA jobs and about 20 millions kids that want one of those 400 jobs. Do the math. You gotta work your butt off!! Every single day of your life.
Nicole: Wait.. one more thing.. Was there ever a moment you thought - No Way, this will never happen to me? If so, how did you overcome it? If not - how did you protect yourself from self-doubt?
I had broken my arm and shoulder in many spots and it was just horrible.I remember waking up one night in the hospital and I was bandaged up and in this huge cast . I said to myself that I couldn't believe that i was laid up this way and my career was over.I prayed and cried that whole night and I promised myself that I would play again and never take my life or my career for granted again.
My friends, thank you for reading this little interview. Now - I want to ask a small favor from you guys. My friend Sharone is doing all of this on his own dime. If you would be so kind as to donate 5, 10, 25 - $50 or more to his camp. Like I said, I rarely do things like this - but let me tell you.. the crime in my hometown is terrible. Too many kids get caught up in the wrong thing, and have no one to look up to. This camp will allow boys and girls to gain a new hobby, stay healthy, and hopefully stay out of trouble. Look at how basketball changed Sharone's life. He beat the odds.
To make a donation please click on THIS LINK. If you are interesting in learning more about what scouts like Sharone are looking for, check out his blog.