I grew up in Palestine, TX. My neighborhood was called New Addition. It started out as a working-class neighborhood, but when the crack epidemic hit, many of those in the neighborhood who used to work and were solid citizens became addicts. I watched my neighborhood disintegrate before my own eyes while growing up. I also had friends on the other side of town that I would often spend time with. It gave me a good balance of the reality that I lived in and what could be. Palestine is a special place, and it is what made me who I am!
I am the youngest of four. My closest sibling to me in age was my brother who was 7 years older than me. My sister is 7 years older than him. She was more like my mother because my mother worked so much. She took really good care of me. I also had 7 nephews and nieces who grew up under me, so our house was always full of laughter and love. Everyday was an adventure!
My mother was a beautician by trade. She always kept a second job, such as Little Mexico, a local restaurant, and domestic work. She definitely worked over 40 hours. I would say more like 60-80. She did whatever she needed to do to ensure we had everything we wanted or needed. My dad was more of the nurturer of the two. He had his battles with drugs and alcohol, but I knew he loved me and always wanted the best for me. He always told me that I had to be better than him and to not make the same mistakes that he made in life. Our conversations were immeasurable, and they helped me tremendously. He was a carpenter by trade. He also worked in the oilfield and for the railroad. A lot of the men in our neighborhood had good jobs, but the way we lived didn’t reflect it.
I was never scared being in my neighborhood because the things that were happening around us was our norm. All the drug dealers and users were our family and friends! You just learn how to adapt and carry yourself accordingly. I’ve seen someone overdose on drugs, seen someone shot, and seen someone stabbed. I witnessed a close friend get murdered. At one point, I think I became numb to death because we were losing people on the regular.
Before I got into coaching, I worked for the TDCJ-ID for a couple of years. I also worked at UPS, Trinity Valley Hospital, and a local group home, which was my favorite job non-coaching.
It’s never too late to finish what you started! I went to Sam Houston State University after my graduation from high school. I got married, became a father, and entered the real world. The real world was not kind to me, and after years I returned to school and received an Associates Degree from Odessa College. I also have a Bachelors Degree in Communication from the University Of Texas at Permian Basin. I’m currently working on my Masters Degree in Sports Management at Texas Southern University. My education has totally changed the course of my life. More importantly, it gives my children a standard to live by!
I was an athlete, so coaching was the natural progression for me. I first coached youth football for the Anderson County Youth Football League. I had the pleasure of coaching Adrian Peterson during his time with the Cowboys. This was my first taste of what a special athlete looked like. I then coached the East Texas Lady Warriors AAU Basketball team for 3 summer seasons. I swore I would never coach girls again! As you know, I am now the Associate Head Coach for Women’s Basketball at Texas Southern University. Never say never! My career has taken me from coaching youth sports to being a Head Coach at one of the top prep schools in the US at Christian Life Center Academy. I was blessed to coach Deandre Jordan of the LA Clippers while there and also coached NBA lottery pick Ben McLemore of the Memphis Grizzlies. I have also had stints as an assistant coach at Tyler Junior College, Odessa College, and Arkansas State University prior to Texas Southern University.
My family has and will always be my number one supporters. There’s always a section of any arena that we are playing in that is full of my family and friends. My wife and kids have sacrificed a lot, having to move several times for me to follow and chase my dream. I can only imagine how hard those transitions were for them, but they never complained. I spend many days and nights on the road traveling for work, which causes me to miss their activities. When I’m home, I try to make their games, recitals, etc. When their schedule permits, I take them on road trips with our team. I have been blessed to have worked for coaches who are family first.
My oldest son, Carlos Jr., is 21, and he is entering his senior year at Arkansas State University. He’s a great student and does not play sports. My other two kids are great athletes. My middle son, Kobe, is 18 and just committed to playing division 1 basketball at Arkansas State beginning the fall of 2018 after completing his senior year at Atascocita HS in Humble, TX. My daughter, Kelis, is 12 and is considered one of the top volleyball players in our area for her age group. She plays AAU volleyball and also plays for her school. It seems that the cycle of sports in our household is never-ending!
To motivate my players, I find out their “why”. Their “why” becomes the reason that they are playing college sports. Some want to make it to the pros to financially support their mom. Some want to get school paid for so they can earn a degree. Some have siblings or friends who have been murdered and these losses drive them. I always find out their “why,” and I won’t let them forget the reason that they are here. There are certain demands and expectations for champions, and I don’t compromise those. Sometimes I curse, sometimes I pray. It just depends on the situation. My job is ultimately to get the most out of each individual I coach by whatever means necessary!. We both appreciate the process when it’s all over.
Hopefully, my life can inspire others and motivate someone to chase their dreams. When the time is right, I want to be a Head Coach in Division 1 Basketball. I’ve had wonderful people that I have had the pleasure of working for and with. They have poured so much into me as a person and in my career! I just want to give the things that I have learned to others! I’m always mentoring someone in every city that I have lived in. My sons always have their friends around, some who are from single parent households and not from ideal backgrounds. I try and show them the other side of life that we don’t get to see coming from those rough neighborhoods!
Because of my schedule, I don’t get to go back to Palestine as much as I would like. When I am home, I spend all of my time with my family. The neighborhood has become somewhat dilapidated. A lot of the houses are either vacant or run down. My actual home burned down several years ago. There’s only a couple of people still there in the neighborhood from the old days. Most of the ones I grew up with have spent time in prison or are dead. There are quiet a few people that aren’t in a good state of mind due to drug use, etc.
For a while, I was just like everybody else. We were all doing the same things, but for some reason, God turned my life around and led me down a different path! I thank Him daily for sparing my life and giving me direction! The people from my neighborhood are all proud of me and let me know how much my career has meant to our community. At the end of the day, I’m one of them until they day I die! I’m glad I can represent Palestine and my neighborhood in a positive manner. It hasn’t always been like that. I have had to make major changes in order to get my life on the track that it’s on!
My role models growing up were my cousin, Hunky Cooper, and my good friend, Keith Crawford. They were local athletes who got their degrees and played professionally. They kept the younger ones who had a chance, like myself, around when they were home and gave us something to shoot for. I’m always grateful and indebted to those two guys!
My advice for someone who wants to break away from their current situation and better themselves would be to first set goals. You have to see the big picture and understand that it is a process. You then have to plan step by step what it will take for you to reach those goals. There will be ups and downs in anything you do, but the ones who make it are the ones who persevere through adversity. Nothing worth having comes easy. When work ethic meets preparation, anything is possible!