During the past two days, two professional athletes have been stopping at some of the schools in ECISD to motivate the students through athletic stunts, a summary of their lives and a few jokes.
On Thursday afternoon, the auditorium of Ector Junior High was filled with about 250 students who listened to every word spoken by Melvin Adams, a former Harlem Globetrotter, and Leonard Larramore, a former NFL player with the Buffalo Bills. Adams was the first to speak to the students.
“I believe when you realize you have value, the sky’s the limit,” Adams said.
After a few one-liners, Adams pulled some students to the front of the auditorium where he asked students to demonstrate some behind the back, under the knee basketball moves. After, Adams started to tell the students the difficult journey he has a child, even as a joke as some points.
“My father and Osama Bin Laden have to be the best hide and go seek players ever,” Adams said, recalling a game of hide and seek he played with his dad growing up in which he never saw his father again.
Adams proceeded to tell students about his life in Houston, where he grew up in poverty with an abusive mother, an absent father and on top of everything he was short in a world where he loved to play to basketball. Adams said it didn’t matter — he wanted to play professional basketball and told students that 90 percent of success is just believing in accomplishing something.
“It doesn’t matter where you come from, it matters where you go,” Adams said.
Larramore followed Adams presentation and added a little more muscle to a similar message.
“You can’t control where you come from, but you control where you end up,” Larramore said.
During some of Larramore’s more impressive stunts, he performed push-ups with students on his back, lifted two girls over head as they held a pole and ripped a phone book in half. Despite the impressive display, Larramore touched briefly on his own setbacks in life and told the students he was only able to reach his goal of playing professional football after a lot of hard work.
“You can break the cycle in your life, whatever if may be,” Larramore said.
And for some of the students, the message was received.
Julian Becerra, a ninth-grader at Ector, said he enjoyed the speeches and the stories they told.
“I want to be a professional football player,” Becerra said. “It motivates me.”
The freshman football player wasn’t alone. In fact the entire ninth-grade football team, about 70 boys, sat together in the auditorium with their jerseys on, many hoping to one day be professional football players themselves.
Sean Garcia, a ninth-grader at Ector, said he liked the presentation.
“I think he made a big impact,” Garcia said. “Well, both of them…It was amazing.”
Another fourteen-year-old, Damian Hernandez, a ninth-grader at Ector, agreed. Both boys have been playing football since they were in second grade and place it as a top priority. Hernandez agreed that the speakers offered some uplifting words that encouraged him in continuing his goals with professional football.
“They’re both good motivators,” Hernandez said.
Rodney Morris, boy athletic coordinator at Ector Junior High, said he was glad that the students, especially his ninth-grade football players were able to hear the messages from the athletes. He said there are quite a few players on his team who do come from difficult backgrounds in poverty or with absent fathers.
“It’s a great opportunity for our guys who see things a certain way,” Morris said. “They’re not alone, they’re not by themselves.”
The presentations this week were among the first organized through a newly formed sponsorship between the school district and Stonegate Fellowship in Midland. District officials said these presentations are the first of more to come.
And for coach Morris, that’s a good thing for students throughout the district.
“It’s a great idea,” Morris said, adding that it helps students see that they can be successful.