P.E. teacher Jedd Sims wanted a lesson for his Falcon Middle School students different from the rest.
“I’m a big basketball fan and thought it would be unique for our kids to meet a former NBA player,” Sims shared. That’s when he learned about the Denver Nuggets Community Ambassadors. Spokespeople in the program, which include former players, reach out to students by encouraging them to embrace learning, respect others, value good sportsmanship and practice excellence.
Sims connected with the program, and soon after, former Nuggets player Ervin Johnson made the trip to Firebird Nation on three different days in September to deliver a message about character, confidence and making good choices. “You need to have pride and courage in yourself,” Johnson told the students.
Johnson’s track record proves he knows how building self-esteem can lead to success. He didn’t play basketball in high school, but with hard work and desire, Johnson went on to finish his college career at the University of New Orleans fifth in the nation in rebounding, and remains the school’s leader with rebounds, blocks and field goal shooting. He later played for 13 years in the NBA.
Johnson asked the students about their own goals and dreams, and the middle schoolers shared aspirations of becoming actors, engineers and professors, to name a few. “Believe in yourself, and others will encourage you,” he added.
The former professional athlete credits his success to having a strong support system. “In college I won a lot of rings and trophies,” he said. “I gave them all away because I wouldn’t have made it without all of them.”
His message came through loud and clear as many Firebirds left the presentation inspired.
“Mr. Johnson talked a lot about hard work,” commented Jordan Triplett, eighth-grader. “You don’t have to come from something to make yourself into something.”