DENHAM SPRINGS, LA (WAFB) - The man who inspired retired NBA basketball player Shaquille O'Neal to shoot for the stars delivered a powerful message to students devastated by the August flood.
Former LSU basketball coach Dale Brown hit the hardwood on Monday at Denham Springs High School. As the students filed into the newly-renovated gym, they were quickly reminded how lucky they are to be back. Just six months ago, the school was damaged by the flood. It was especially hard for the senior class.
"It was tough. We missed the scrimmage jamboree and the first game of the season senior year. It was hard," said senior, Carl St. Cyr.
"Being away, we felt like there was something missing," said another senior, Kamryn King.
The Yellow Jackets are back, and at center court to welcome them into the nest was a man who has been through a tough time or two himself. It was Dale Brown, the man who coached Shaquille O'Neal at LSU and is also responsible for putting LSU basketball on the map. He told the students about growing up on welfare on a farm with no bed.
"We had paint peeling off the wall, no heat, no air," Brown said.
Students were about to learn the former coach is a master motivator too. He said he got that from his mother.
"She said if you spend too much time polishing your image, you'll eventually tarnish your character, and you'll be an unhappy man," Brown said.
Coach Brown placed four chairs on the hardwood as he explained to students the four hurdles they must cross in life to find happiness, peace, and success. The first: don't let anyone tell you can't do anything.
"So number one, you get over that hurdle, so many strides. There's going to be hurdle two," Brown said.
Failure, ailments, and knowing yourself were the final three. The last, the coach warned, would be the hardest.
"Who am I? Where am I going? What do I really want out of life," Brown asked of the students.
While they may not have it figured out yet, students said the coach's message was a slam dunk. "Just listening to the positive and the encouraging words and the amazing aspects and different things he has been through, it was incredible," King said.
Coach Brown has traveled to 90 countries and all 50 states. He said the students who attended the assembly at Denham Springs High School were, by far, the most disciplined and attentive he's seen.