APS hit a homerun for its student-athletes

As an 8-year-old African-American male living in Atlanta, GA, I dreamed of playing professional baseball with the Chicago Cubs and becoming a “businessman” as my back up plan.

Over the years, I’ve had hundreds of people pour into me to make my dreams a reality; I did play for the Chicago Cubs and I am a successful business owner and philanthropist.

Thank God for my mom and dad and my family. Thank God for the Atlanta Public School System (APS) and all of my Grove Park Elementary School teachers. Thank God for the patience of my first baseball coach Emmett Johnson who still serves on the APS School Board. Thank God for  my wife, daughters, all of my coaches, teachers, principals, mentors and friends. Without you, success for me still would have remained a dream.

Yesterday evening, I along with several of my L.E.A.D. Ambassadors and their family were recognized and honored by the Atlanta Public School Superintendent Erroll Davis as well as the APS Board of Education. The room was packed and they gave us a standing ovation for our continued commitment to excellence. Since 2007, 100% of my Ambassadors have graduated from high school and enrolled in college while 89% of my Ambassadors have enrolled in college with a baseball scholarship.

Standing behind my Ambassadors last night was a strong woman who has supported L.E.A.D. from the start. APS School Board Chairwoman Brenda Muhammad has been our #1 fan because of her passion for excellence in academics, athletics and community engagement.  Her expectations are high and we aim to please.

It was so fitting for me to shake the hand of my first baseball coach Emmett Johnson last night as we were being honored. Maybe he knew all along that I wanted to become a leader and a change agent throughout the country. It just goes to show the positive influence that coaches have on youth. Mentorship matters.

I had to smile and laugh as I was being recognized to keep me from crying tears of joy. Often times, men go without recognition in their own hometown. I strive for excellence everyday while I’m on this Earth because I believe that God has given me a gift. It is also my civic duty to do so.

On behalf of L.E.A.D., I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to APS Superintendent Erroll Davis, APS Chairwoman Brenda Muhammad and the APS School Board for the special recognition. Like me, my Ambassadors have a sense of belonging and investment to the city of Atlanta so we will continue to represent you well.

APS worked for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It worked for me and it works for my Ambassadors. APS works for Atlanta.