Monday, February 27, 2012

A burdened man

I know that I can't save every troubled child in the world but I'm definitely going to try to save every Atlanta Public Schools student that wants to play baseball with the goal to access college. My organization L.E.A.D. provides inner city Atlanta youth access to higher education and civic engagement through baseball.  For several inner city Atlanta APS students, going to college is non achievable due to social and economica circumstances.

God put the love of baseball on my heart at the age of 10. My relationship with Him, my family and baseball have made me the person that I am today and it's my goal to have a long lasting legacy in this world. Paraphrasing Dr. King, I want people to say of me that I lived my life serving others, that I tried to love somebody and that I lived a committed life.

But for now, it's that time of year again when baseball becomes relevant in the U.S. The Braves are preparing to beat the Rangers in the 2012 World Series. Go Braves! You will also notice articles and interviews with regards to the decline of African-Africans in baseball. It humors me when it is said that African-American youth "choose" to play basketball and football over baseball. The reality is that baseball requires instruction and lots of time to develop the skills of hitting, throwing, fielding, etc. Access to professional instruction is expensive.  The solution to this problem is a burdened man.

I am burdened and on a mission to increase the number of African-Americans that are competing in baseball at the collegiate level. Currently, there are less than 5% of African-Americans competing in the NCAA.

I never thought as a child that I wouldn't achieve my goal of playing professional baseball for the Chicago Cubs.  I had too many positive people on my side; it was highly unlikely that I would fail.  I won't fail the young men in Atlanta that have the same dreams I had years go. This thing has been a problem too long and I'm offering my life as a living sacrifice to be a part of the solution.  L.E.A.D. Today...Change Tomorrow.

Atlanta Public Schools (APS) currently graduates 34% of its African-American males from high school. Going to college and graduating with a career for these young men changes an entire community.

L.E.A.D. succeeds with four pillars of excellence: academics, baseball, service/civic engagement and exposure. Since 2007, 100% of my L.E.A.D. Ambassadors graduate from high school and enroll in college while 89% enroll with a baseball scholarship.

This isn't rocket science. Making an impact can be done if you want to do it. You truly have to be burdened, willing and able. I have days when I feel that I am invincible then I have days when I question if I'm making a difference. I continue because God has put this on my heart to be a change agent. Inner city Atlanta was home for me as a child. Without my experiences, I wouldn't understand what young African-American males face daily. I have the capacity to help so that is what I will do.

When your only tool in life is a hammer, everything begins to look like a nail. On my watch, inner city Atlanta males are receiving all of the tools required to access college and a career upon graduation. That is impact. You can impress people from a distance, but you can only impact them close up.

APS serves over 46,000 students and 79% of those students live at or below the poverty level. As a high school baseball player, expect to pay over $8,000 per year for training and exposure if you want to receive a baseball scholarship. Baseball isn't what it used to be. You have to pay to play today.

Through God's will, you can count on me to continue to knock down walls and open doors for any young man in this city that wants to play this game in college.

Why wouldn't I?

Somebody did it for me.

Help me help others through L.E.A.D.

1. If you love baseball, "Like" L.E.A.D. at

2. Join our L.E.A.D. Young Professionals Tailgate Club

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

What's So Funny?


That's what. Nothing is funny.

Failing schools, failing leadership, failing communities; that's what is being depicted in the media and that's what our children are seeing..hearing...absorbing. 

Merriam-Webster defines propaganda as "ideas, facts, or allegations spread deliberately to further one's cause or to damage an opposing cause". While I am in no way saying that all the things that are said about our schools, leadership and communities are true or not true, I am definitely saying that there is too much GOOD that goes unreported.

So in that spirit, it's time for L.E.A.D. to invoke a little propaganda of its own- the good kind of course, that deliberately spreads facts and ideas to further a cause: L.E.A.D.'s cause.

Drum roll please....

Voices of L.E.A.D. is a resource that we'll use to talk about some of those negative things being reported in the media, however, we will talk about them in the context of how L.E.A.D. trained student-athletes are coping with and overcoming them. Voices of L.E.A.D. will appear in different communication mediums and I'm really excited about the way we are launching this program. 

With issues this serious, the best way to attack them is with a sense of humor, so our first offering will be via a comic strip. 

Yes- a comic strip where you just might see some familiar faces.  

So without further delay, here's our first offering of Voices of L.E.A.D.


Breaking Chains

Click to learn more and give.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Black History Month Legend of the Day: Monica Pearson

Monica Pearson has been an honorary member of my family since I was born. She gave Atlanta good news and sometimes bad news. She gave African-Americans a strong since of accomplishment. She connected communities.

Mrs. Pearson will retire this year after 37 years of service to Atlanta. She was the first African-American and female evening news anchor in Atlanta. Her signature hair styles set the trends and kept beauticians busy. Her skin and smile is so radiant that it makes the cameras appear to be high tech.

I was present yesterday when she received a Proclamation from City Councilman Michael Julian Bond. There were hundreds of people there to say thank you to Mrs. Pearson. To my surprise, she spoke to everyone in attendance. To the people that know her best, they say that is Monica being Monica. I figured that it would be overwhelming to give that much attention to so many people but she did it.

I was fortunate to get a huge and a photo with her. Mrs. Pearson is Atlanta. She is a living legend and it was an honor to meet her. It was like she knew me already.  She is the epitome of class.

Atlanta is a renowned city that has produced many amazing icons but we wouldn't be complete without the voice of Monica Pearson. I'm not sure what she will do in her retirement but I and thousands of others will remain a fan of hers.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Black History Month Legend of the Day: Smokey Robinson

My first introduction to music was listening to Smokey Robinson. Like Mars candy bars, my dad loved Smokey Robinson.

Back in the day, Mr. Robinson was revered as an accomplished artist. Today, he is a world icon.  Smokey wrote songs that brought people together in this country when we were still separated.

Over a period of time, most things stay the same and often time fade away.  Like my dad, Smokey continues to get stronger.

I am so glad that my dad introduced me to Smokey because I have been able to track his success. He has adjusted to the times yet maintained his identity. I strive to do the same. Before I approach the fourth quarter of my life, I want to be referred to as an icon. If so, that means that I have helped a lot of people.

Thank you dad for being great and thank you for introducing me to greatness at such a young age.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Black History Month Legend of the Day: Alonzo Herndon

Living in Atlanta has so many advantages. As a child, I was exposed to so much through my parents and the Atlanta Public School System. That exposure made it difficult for me to decide what I wanted to become in life. That's a good problem to have. 

One of the first field trips that I can remember taking in elementary school was to the Herndon Home. Just to think that in the early 1900's, a black man was doing something that he loved, impacting an entire city while obtaining wealth. Looked like the perfect role model for me. 

Mr. Alonzo Herndon's first successful business venture was a barber shop in Atlanta on Peachtree Street. I hear stories about the marble floors and chandeliers. Here is a black man with a barber shop on Peachtree Street with a clientele of the most successful white men in the south. Mr. Herndon became Atlanta's first black millionaire. 

The barber shop on Peachtree later became Atlanta Life Insurance which has expanded and continues to thrive. 

As I walked through the Herndon Home as a third grader, I decided that I wanted to be successful just like Mr. Herndon. I knew that I could do it because he did it. 

Today, I am one of the most respected baseball instructors in the country. The seed of striving for excellence was nurtured in the Herndon Home. Thank you Mr. Herndon. Your legacy of excellence lives on through me. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Black History Month Legend of the Day: Hosea Williams

I remember Tj Wilson taking me to Forsyth County for a batting session with Denny Pritchett while I was in high school. As we drove into the rural town, my heartbeat raced because I was looking for the Klansmen (KKK).  Thank God that I never saw them.

Ten years prior, I watched civil rights activist Hosea Williams marching in Forsyth and being attacked by Klansmen with rocks on television. I associated Forsyth County with hate towards blacks.

Ironically, Mr. Williams made it possible for me to receive baseball instruction so that I would later receive a college education at Georgia State University and play professionally for the Chicago Cubs.

Forsyth County became a land of opportunity for an African-American boy from the inner city of Atlanta.

Thank you Mr. Williams for your sacrifice and commitment to the equal rights of all humans. I will continue to show my appreciation to you through L.E.A.D.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Black History Month Legend of the Day: James "Red" Moore

Where would baseball be without the legacy of the Negro League players. In the famous words of Negro League founder Rube Foster, "We are the ship, all else is the sea." African-Americans weren't allowed to play in the major leagues so he had the audacity to establish the Negro Leagues and made it great.

We all know about players such as Jackie Robinson and Hank Aaron. Did you know that Booker T. Washington High School (Atlanta, GA) graduated a respected Negro League player?

James Moore, commonly known as "Red" was born in Atlanta, GA in 1916. He played on several Negro League teams but played his best ball with the hometown Atlanta Black Crackers.

"Red" is a living legend. I have had the pleasure of meeting him on several occasions listening to great stories. He expressed how proud that he was of me for establishing L.E.A.D. in his hometown.

There are thousands of African-American males in Atlanta that would love the opportunity to embrace this game that "Red" still lives for. How can it continue to be said that inner city boys don't want to play baseball? We are talking about baseball. African-Americans have been playing baseball since the days of slavery.

Our country has a problem. There are less than 8% of African-Americans playing baseball at the major league level and less than 5% in the NCAA. Every problem creates an opportunity and L.E.A.D. is the solution. Check our success rate of converting raw African-American talent to college strident-athletes at

Thank you for inspiring me Mr. James "Red" Moore.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Black History Month Legend of the Day: A.D. Williams King

As a child and up until a month ago, I played at A.D. Williams Park in Northwest Atlanta off Hightower Road not knowing who Mr. Williams was. I knew that he had to be somebody special in order to have a park with his namesake.

A month ago, I attended a worship service at Ebenezer Baptist Church and discovered that Mr. Williams King was in fact an ordained minister and Civil Rights leader like his older brother, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Alfred Daniel Williams King (A.D. Williams) was born in Atlanta, GA on July 30, 1930 to Rev. Martin Luther King, Sr. and Mrs. Alberta Williams King and died July 21, 1969.

I am far from a historian. I am however making it a habit to learn about the legacy of men that did so much for society and called Atlanta home.

A.D. Williams is more than a name on a sign at park. He is one of the reasons that I can lead.

Get to know Mr. A.D. Williams King.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Black History Month Legend of the Day: Dr. Alonzo Crim

I attended Grove Park Elementary School (APS) for grades 1st through 5th. During that time, Dr. Alonzo Crim was our superintendent for Atlanta Public Schools. I never met him personally but I saw him often walking the halls at the school. My overall experience with APS was great and I associated that with the head man in charge. As an adult, I now realize that Dr. Crim was more than just the “head man in charge”.

Dr. Crim came to Atlanta Public Schools in 1973 on a mission to give every child in the district an opportunity to receive a quality education regardless of complexion or skin color. In 1972, the Atlanta Compromise was proposed as part of the settlement of the federal de-segregation suit and constituted that Atlanta Public Schools had to adjust their administrative staff so that 50% of the staff would be African American. In addition, APS had to hire an African American superintendent of schools. Cited

In 1973, Alonzo A. Crim, who was serving as the superintendent of a school county in Carmel, California at the time, became the first black superintendent of a school county in the South. He made it his mission to focus on providing quality education to every child in the district regardless of the complexion of their skin. Cited

Upon accepting his invitation, he remarked that he wanted to create a county “where students would know that people cared about them”, and provide them with the tools necessary to achieve their greatest potential. Dr. Crim turned the focus from race to that of learning by initiating what he termed a “Community of Believers” – a network that consisted of Atlanta organizations and individuals who believed in the potential of the city’s children and who were willing to invest time and money in that potential. To Dr. Crim, “belief by the community at large must include the following factors: 1.) Each student is a valuable person fully capable of learning, 2.) our school system can bring about learning, 3.) the economic failure of the nation is dependent on the academic achievement of all students, and therefore, 4.) every person in the total community is a stakeholder and has a vested interest in the Atlanta Public School System.” By 1986, Dr. Crim managed to increase the students’ performance level in basic skills to above the national average, significantly increased attendance rates to higher than 92%, and brought the graduation rate up to more than 70%. He was longest tenured African-American superintendent in the nation by 1986. Cited

My organization L.E.A.D. is a “Community of Believers”. There are currently 46,000 students in the Atlanta Public School System. 79% of the families in APS live at or below the poverty level. Without a “Community of Believers” supporting our students in APS, there will be a loss of hope and increase of bad habits. Dr. Crim has a legacy of believing and achieving. When the book is closed, I want it to be said that Coach CJ believed in us as well.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Black History Month Legend of the Day: Benjamin Elijah Mays

Benjamin Elijah Mays (August 1, 1894 – March 28, 1984) was an American minister, educator, scholar, social activist and the president of Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA from 1940 to 1967. Mays was also a significant mentor to civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. and was among the most articulate and outspoken critics of segregation before the rise of the modern civil rights movement in the United States. (Wikipedia) 

Mentorship requires knowledge, a willingness to share information and experiences and consistent availability to your mentee.

The accomplishments of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. are well documented but the world knows very little about the men that guided him. Benjamin E. Mays was one of those men. I remember being a 1st grader at Grove Park Elementary School (APS) in 1982 and receiving my first Quotable Quotes book by Mr. Mays. This book was like the bible to our teachers. We read inspirational quotes from it every day during school. Those quotes provided hope because of the person that said it. One of my favorites is “It must be borne in mind that the tragedy of life does not lie in not reaching your goal. The tragedy of life lies in having no goal to reach.”

I take my role of mentorship very seriously because there are hundreds of young men that see value in following me because of what I know and what I’m willing to expose them to. Baseball is my life. The game measures your success based on how often you fail. It trains you to overcome adversity and the true meaning of perseverance. 

Setting a goal can be the easy part. Achieving it is extremely difficult. Having a reliable mentor makes anything possible. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream and Benjamin Elijah Mays helped it become a reality.

L.E.A.D. Today…Change Tomorrow!