As a part of SAYM’s ongoing mission to get mentees to “AIM” for academic excellence and to stay in school, on Tuesday, April 25, 2014, Sian Cotton, a former basketball and football star at St. Vincent-St. Mary High school (and friend and high school teammate of former St. V star and NBA star, Lebron James) spoke to the mentees. Sian, who also played for Vincent Curry, during his tenure as Arlington Christian Academy’s boys basketball coach, shared from his heart about the importance of taking education seriously. He shared from his own life and how there were times he was not as focused on the books as he should have been and that the distractions caused him to miss out on some opportunities. He mentioned that he lost a chance to play football at Notre Dame because his grade point average was not high enough to meet Notre Dame’s academic standards. He noted that many of the mentees may not like school, but that it was important to stay in school and get good grades because in the game of life the rules are set to favor those who get an education. Sian told them that those who don’t get an education are easily screened out and are not given the same opportunities as those who do get an education.
Sian told the mentees that life will bring adversity, some self-inflicted and some just because that is the way life is – there was a time when he could have given up and quit because things at Ohio State University, where he went after graduation, were not going as well as he wanted. Instead of giving up, he found new life and continued his collegiate career at Walsh University. I discovered that he was so committed to this goal that he missed the premiere of the movie More Than A Game (which was about his high school team’s basketball experiences at St V) which conflicted with one of his activities at Walsh.
Of course, with him being a friend and former teammate of Lebron, there were numerous questions about Lebron and basketball, but at the end of the day, the points that Sian made to the mentees were 1) Play the game of education to win 2) If you fall down and mess up. Don’t stay down. Get up. 3) Believe in yourself even when others do not 4) People will talk about you, but you don’t have to respond. Don’t get distracted responding to the haters. 5) Staying in school and pursuing an education has opened many doors for him (i.e Being able to meet former president, Bill Clinton).