Professional achievement is a village effort

My dreams of playing professional baseball began at the age of 8 or 9 when I would watch Chicago Cubs baseball games with my grandfather in the day time and Braves games at night on the Super Station.  From that point on, my decision making for success was based on that dream coming true.  Everything that I did would either help me or hurt me with regards to being a Cubbie.

My parents have allowed a lot of awesome people to come into my life to mentor me. One of the best youth coaches that I ever had was James Holiday.  We all respected him for his baseball knowledge but most of all, he was always there for us.  We knew that we would have a team to play for every year and that he would bring the best out of us.  He was strict but we needed the discipline.  He got me ready for the next level.

L to R: L.E.A.D. Ambassadors Earl Muhammad, Cedric Reed, Evelyn Holiday, James Holiday, myself and Howard Walker

One of the best decisions that I ever made was signing to attend GA State University to play baseball for Coach Mike Hurst.  He is a living legend and has poured himself into thousands of young men and women.  He taught me so many valuable lessons that I use today when I mentor our L.E.A.D. Ambassadors.  My time at GSU has prepared me for success in life.

After college, my dream of playing professional baseball came true when I signed with the Chicago Cubs.  It was everything that I thought that it would be.  Upon my retirement, I began training amateur and professional hitters through my for-profit business Diamond Directors.

I remember training Josh Merrigan when he was 11 years old and now he is entering his freshman year at Georgia State University.  I have watched James Clements take thousands of swings since he was in middle school and now he is a freshman GSU Panther as well.

James Clements and his mother Kellie

Our success of Diamond Directors caused my wife/business partner Kelli and I to start a non-profit organization L.E.A.D. (Launch, Expose, Advise, Direct) in 2007 to provide inner city Atlanta youth males with access to higher education and civic engagement through baseball.  We successfully do that by graduating 100% of our Ambassadors from high school while 100% of them enroll in college and 92% enroll with baseball scholarship opportunities.

Accepting the award with L.E.A.D. Ambassadors Earl Muhammad and Tabias Wimby along my side

Two weeks ago, GSU Head Baseball Coach Greg Frady called to inform me about being honored as the 2013 Professional Achievement Award recipient. I was full of emotion that day and still on Cloud 9 now. Private victories always precede public victories. Thank you Coach Frady for empowering me to empower others.

God has blessed me in so many ways to be a blessing to so many others. I take my calling to serve others seriously. I can be all that God wants me to be because of an amazing wife, daughters, parents, family members, friends and supporters. I accept this award on behalf of you all. Without you, I can’t achieve anything worth talking about professionally.