More than 100 Buffalo Public Schools students had a day they will never forget on Friday. They had the chance to meet local basketball legend and NBA Hall of Famer Bob Lanier.
But for all the fun of meeting the former all-star, there were lessons to be learned.
It happened at Mentor New York’s first Mentoring Matters Youth Summit at D’Youville College. The idea was to give the fifth and sixth grade students a taste of college life so that when the time comes, they will be ready.The boys are all part of BPS’s “My Brother’s Keeper” program, which is designed to give minority students a vision for their future.
“They’re on a campus tour. They get to choose some electives from West African drumming to science to storytelling to some physical fitness,” explained Matt Meyersohn, the Senior Director of External Affairs for Mentor.
But the part the kids will remember involved the first overall pick in the 1970 NBA Draft.
“We know how important it is to have someone in your life that can prod you, push you, love you, care about you, and give you direction,” Lanier said.
Lanier tried to give the students that direction. He told them about his mentor at the Masten Boys & Girls Club in Buffalo, Lorrie Alexander.
“He talked about believing in yourself, about respecting yourself and others, and about accomplishing goals,” Lanier said.
Three of the students even had a chance to ask Lanier a question, including Bertin Ramadhani who wanted to ask, “What’s his favorite team?”
It was the first of its kind event for Mentor New York in the Buffalo area, and Buffalo Public Schools officials have their fingers crossed it will all pay off down the line.
“The earlier you catch the students, the better the opportunity they have at being successful,” explained Kenneth Boone, the mentor coordinator for My Brother’s Keeper, “wanting to socialize, wanting to be self-aware.”