Hometown heroes and hometown blues. 2 tales of 1 city.

Hometown heroes and hometown blues. 2 tales of 1 city.
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I retweeted it in record speed.

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Stephen Curry was named the Most Valuable Player of the NBA. Yes, the Charlotte native and son of legendary Charlotte Hornet Dell Curry won one of the most prestigious awards a professional basketball player could win. Being only 2 years older than me, Curry, someone who I’d seen play countless times in high school, was now putting on for the home town and cementing his name as a hometown hero for Charlotte. When folks talk about great people from the city of Charlotte, you now have to include Stephen Curry in the mix.

stephen-curry

Rewind to 2005 and nobody thinks Stephen Curry will become the MVP let alone a top division 1 recruit. Stephen Curry was not ranked in the top 100 high school players, had no ACC recruiting offers, was considered undersized for the next level of basketball, and only had 3 stars on Rivals.com, which is a respected assessment of high school players.

Fast forward to 2008, Curry wows the nation as the undersized, collegiate guard grows a few inches and rallies a virtually unknown Davidson to the elite 8 in the NCAA tournament.  Curry’s game spoke for itself in that NCAA tournament and ultimately led to him being drafted by the Warriors with the 7th pick in 2009.

As I was drafting a motivational piece on how anyone can silence the critics like Curry and defy the odds to become the best person in your field, I was highly discouraged by another article that came across my news feed. My stomach sank to my ankles when I read that my county was in this article. As someone who sympathizes with others, I instantly felt that feeling of being hopeless. I read:

toughest-counties-to-escape-poverty

As Charlotte celebrates one of its own defying the odds and becoming the MVP of the NBA, another report was underway showing a harsh reality of our city as well. The opportunity and likelihood for less fortunate children to escape poverty looks dismal in Charlotte. According to the Equality of Opportunity Project, children from low-income families in Mecklenburg County will make approximately 14% less than the national average by the time they are 26.

The problem of poverty within our city is not just seen in some report, but it is felt everyday by those who work with students in the public school system. I spoke with Cardell Smith, a former Marketing teacher at Harding University High School and he said, “80% of the students that attend come from a financial hardship which puts them on free or reduced lunch…Many students were in such bad circumstances some days that their only promised meal(s) was at school.”

As a city, we have to acknowledge the highs and the lows. Charlotte has produced heroes, but we cannot narrow the window of opportunity to produce more legendary people. It’s time we give those born into less fortunate circumstances the opportunity to become a hometown hero as well. Let’s become like Stephan Curry and become the most valuable player to the students who are less fortunate.

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