Photo by Barry Burleson
Adrian Branch, a former NBA star and now ESPN analyst, talks to high school students at Marshall Academy.

Photos by Barry Burleson
Assisting Adrian Branch during his presentation at Marshall Academy are Zac Miller, Tyler Rhodes and Canaan Pearson.

Adrian Branch shares some laughs with Kendrick Fountain, a Holly Springs High School senior who will continue his basketball career at Itawamba Community College.

Adrian Branch gives words of advice to Holly High students.

Branch urges teenagers to make good choices

Former NBA star Adrian Branch delivered a powerful message to teen­agers in Mar­shall County.

The motivational speaker encourages positive choices.

“You’re not born a winner; you’re not born a loser; you’re born a chooser,” he said.

The Holly Springs Rotary Club’s Family Youth Initia­tive Committee hosted the SportsWorld community summit April 27-29. Branch, now an ESPN analyst, spoke to junior high and high school students in the county, helping them to recognize the consequences of their choices in life. He also visited Holly Springs Intermediate School.

“Life is about choosing and refusing,” he said.

Branch was a standout player at DaMatha High School in Hyattsville, Maryland. He was a 1981 McDonald’s All-American and received national recognition for the high school dunk of the year.

But he also “acted stupid,” he said, while at DaMatha and was kicked off the team for a period of time.

“I got the big head,” Branch said. “I had a bad attitude. I showed up late for practice. I was disrespectful.”

He signed a college scholarship with the University of Maryland. He helped lead the Terrapins to the 1984 Atlantic Coast Conference championship. He finished his career at Maryland as the school’s second all-time scorer.

But he made a bad choice at Maryland, too. He was kicked off the team, he said, after he drove a teammate to pick up marijuana and was later reinstated.

“Hanging around  champions, you become a champion,” he said. “Hanging around nuts, you become a nut. You become who you hang around.”

Branch was drafted into the NBA in the second round, by the Chicago Bulls, in 1985. He was a member of the Los Angeles Lakers when they won the NBA championship in 1987. He eventually would play 11 years of professional basketball in the NBA with stops overseas.

He encouraged the young people of Marshall County to work hard, make good grades and good choices, and the sky’s the limit. He told them to stay away from things like drugs, fighting, smoking, drinking, cussing and stealing.

Branch said it takes 100 percent the right attitude to reach goals and dreams.

“Make your choice, and your choice makes you,” he said.

Holly Springs South Reporter

P.O. Box 278
Holly Springs, MS 38635
PH: (662) 252-4261
FAX: (662) 252-3388
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