“I came here tonight to tell you that you are beautiful. You are awesome. You rock. When you realize the value you have, the sky is the limit to what you can become in this life,” he said.
Speaking of his childhood, Adams noted, “I never could do enough to please my mother. I thought if I could score more points, make more money, then my mother would tell me she loved me.”
Growing up poor in Houston, Texas, with an abusive mother and absent father, Adams recalled that his life changed for the better because of a high school counselor who looked beyond the surface.
“She told me I was awesome, and I could do anything. She said it often enough, and I started to believe her.”
His coaches also provided inspiration. “At that point, my determination kicked in. I’d run three miles every day and shoot 3,000 practice shots. I had a dream and I was beginning to believe in myself,” Adams said.
Adams played high school and college basketball before turning professional with the San Antonio Spurs and later the Harlem Globetrotters. But the golden years brought pitfalls.
“I was living a lifestyle that I was not proud of,” he said.
A man of faith, Adams credits God for transforming his life. “I learned that I want to be a man of integrity, a man who can be trusted. At the end of my life, having a good name means everything.”
Adams is married and the father of two boys. He said he’s learned the value of simplifying life. “After the Globetrotters, I turned down a $30 million contact with Disney because I would have been on set 16 hours a day, doing a show for kids, but not building a relationship with my own sons.”
Adam’s talk at the campus theater included Globetrotter tricks, with students participating in a lineup of sorts, working with Adams to spin the ball on their fingers and roll it across their backs.
“I have a new dream,” he added. “It is my passion to share a message of hope with youth across America. I tell them it does not matter where you start, but how you finish.”