JEFFERSON CITY -- Hoop Dreams is a 1994 award winning documentary that followed the lives of two boys as they tried to make it to the NBA. One of the stars of the film, Arthur Agee Jr., made his way to mid-Missouri this past week for a basketball camp.
"When I get in the NBA, the first thing I'm going to do, I'm going to see my mother. I'm going to buy her a house," Agee Jr. said in a scene during the movie. But Agee Jr. never made the NBA, and he says his struggles with his studies certainly hurt his chances. Because of his poor grades, Agee Jr. did not get a division one scholarship at Arkansas State until after he went to junior college. But the young boy has become a man, and that "man" is now teaching kids basketball and life lessons, like he did this past week at Lincoln University.
"Most kids and teenagers you know, school is boring. It's not that entertaining. They sometimes just go for the girls, which I like the girls too. But, you know, the education is what's going to get you over in the long run," Agee Jr. said. Agee Jr. said that he'll never tell a kid to give up on his NBA dream, but that making the NBA is tough. "It's like finding a needle in a hay stack, trying to make the NBA." And he adds, the pressure kids have to make the NBA does not allow them to look at other options. "Love it if you like it, learn to love it if you want to, and if not, it's OK. You can do other things. You have other talents."
Young Roosevelt Stallings and Tyson Suttle both dream of making the NBA. "Always, always, ever since I can remember," Suttle said. "Yeah, it's been my dream since probably kindergarten," Stallings said. But both boys believe that they can succeed in life, with or without basketball. Stallings shared, "I know I really want to play basketball when I grow up, but if I find something else that I'm interested in, I'm pretty sure I might be able to try something else." Tyson Suttle told us, "I have come up with a backup plan. I hope to study sports medicine. I'd like to be a certified athletic trainer." And both boys plan on hitting the books, and not just the hard court.
And as Agee Jr. says, there is more to life than just basketball. "This game, this ball is going to stop bouncing some day, and I'm going to have to lean back on something and what that is, is my education."
The Arthur Agee Jr. Role Model Foundation focuses on helping young kids grow. Tyson Suttle played on the Jefferson City freshmen basketball team last winter.