The student athletes of the Rising Stars Youth Foundation program are in a unique position to experience many events and activities that will enrich their lives, says Paul Savramis. From visiting Kobe Bryant’s Wizenard Series Training Camp, cooking for Ronald McDonald House, meal packing events for Haiti and other community service opportunities, the children are exposed to many people and unique situations that have a positive influence on their lives. One of the most recent notable experiences the student athletes have gotten for 2019 was on April 2, when they were honored to meet and listen to the legendary Basketball Hall of Fame inductee Dr. Dick Barnett. The experience was made possible through the generosity of Signature Bank, a foundation sponsor and advocate of youth development through educational sports programs.
Q: Who is Dr. Dick Barnett?
Paul Savramis: Dr. Dick Barnett is a hall of fame athlete, educator, author, poet, and motivational speaker. He played for 15 seasons in the NBA and was named all-American three times during college at Tennessee State University. Dr. Barnett, who is nicknamed “Dick the Skull,” holds a PhD from Fordham University and is a member of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. Although he retired from teaching at St. John’s University in New York in 2007, Dr. Barnett has remained active off the court and is often invited to speak to up-and-coming student athletes about the importance of being a well-rounded individual and the very real value of education.
Q: What are meant by Dr. Barnett’s 5C’s of success?
Paul Savramis: According to Dr. Barnett, these are Commitment, Conviction, Courage, Confidence, and Caring. He spoke of each of these during the gathering on April 2 and kept reminding the audience that these were the cornerstones of success in life. Throughout his speech, he encouraged the boys and girls to stay true to themselves and their dreams. He reminded them that it took hard work to achieve them, but that it was possible.
Q: Did the students have an opportunity to meet with Dr. Barnett personally?
Paul Savramis: Absolutely. Getting to see Dr. Barnett up close and personal was one of the most amazing aspects of the event. At the conclusion of his speech, Dr. Barnett read “What Now, My Brother?” This is one of his most famous poems, and a verse that obviously struck a chord with many of our young athletes. When that was over, he invited everyone for autographs and photo opportunities.
Q: What did the students take away from the event?
Paul Savramis: I think the most important lesson learned was that hard work pays off, and Dr. Barnett is the living embodiment of that idea. Another lesson for all of us is that life goes on and can be meaningful at any point of our time here. At 83 years young, Dr. Barnett still showed a love of living and incredible vitality in dealing with his audience, both young and old. We were all thrilled to be exposed to the wisdom of such an accomplished man, who is no doubt one of the most prolific athletes and scholars of our time.