I took two of my kids to enjoy the NBA All-Star festivities in February at the Super Dome in New Orleans. While taking a break from the action to grab popcorn with my nine-year old daughter, we encountered Coach Dee. I felt we already knew each other, just from our eye contact. We briefly greeted one another and Coach Dee asked if I had attended the All-Star festivities in Toronto, as I looked familiar. I shared this was my first NBA All-Star event I’ve ever attended, and next thing I knew he was engaging with my nine-year old about her love of basketball. He gave me a card and told my daughter he would send her a package of Jr. Brooklyn Nets gear when he returned home after the festivities. During our conversation, Coach Dee opened up about the recent passing of his mother, and shared that in these types of connections, his mother is always with him.
Coach Dee and I have continued to keep in touch. Sure enough, a few weeks after we met, a package arrived for Julia and she was thrilled. In addition, I’ve continued to learn more about Coach Dee’s passion to give back to youth by running basketball clinics with the Jr. NBA. On a recent trip Coach Dee took to New Orleans, we teamed up to pilot a free clinic run at Lawrence Square Park. This was only the beginning of an opportunity we would like to continue to give back to New Orleans youth. During the clinic in New Orleans, Coach Dee shared "The pass is more important than the shot, because it's just like life, you want to assist people."
Coach Dee gives great advice for campus ambassadors in this episode, especially about the positive energy ambassadors should bring to every encounter they have with campus visitors. He says, “You can give anyone the mic, but what is coming out of that person’s mouth, that is what really works.” The connection with Coach Dee never would have happened without the smile and simple hello we exchanged during the NBA All-Star game. The positivity and good vibes shared in this brief moment have already grown to impact others in positive ways. As with Coach Dee, simple connections can grow quickly if you stay open to the possibility for connections around you each and every day.