In early August, I returned home to join my Charleston High School Class of 1953 classmates for our 60th Class Reunion. The same weekend, I attended the Charleston High School All-Class Reunion.
I write first to thank all who organized these reunions for a wonderful weekend down memory lane. Whether reflecting with my classmates on our times at CHS at Timothy's on Friday, meeting many other Mountain Lions at the All-Class event Saturday, seeing old memorabilia on display, or hanging out at Adelphia and The Recovery - my weekend was filled with special times with special people.
Most of all, this visit home gave me pause to reflect on what Charleston and West Virginia have meant to my life. These memories help me remember how special the people are in my hometown.
So, to all Charlestonians and West Virginians, let me offer a big THANK YOU!
Many know of the challenges I experienced in my childhood. Let's face it. In many ways I was a child of the streets. Caring members of the Charleston community took me in and helped me along the way.
Later, at Thomas Jefferson Junior High and Charleston High School, as well as at the YMCA, basketball and other sports became an anchor in my life. Through adults at these schools and other local programs, I found a way to use a gift I was given - basketball - as a way forward for a better life.
I was fortunate enough to use this gift to gain a college education at West Virginia University, become a top draft pick in the NBA, play professional basketball and earn All-Star team selection with the Lakers, and find my life's pursuit as a broadcaster.
I have made many visits home to Charleston over the years, but this trip was different: Instead of coming home for public appearances, basketball camps, or other public activities, I had an opportunity to be just one of the guys, remembering old times and how the Charleston community shaped our lives.