Welcome to Say Yes Guilford’s new blog series: Alumni for Education. This project will feature several different series focused on alumni of schools in Guilford County. These alumni will promote the importance of education and the importance of philanthropy to support SYG.

The first series will feature Athletes for Education. For anyone who has a kid who loves sports you know how much your child idolizes athletes. While they may look up  to these superstars for their talent on the field and the court, we are now offering both you and your child another reason to look up to these talented men and women, who also realize how important access to a good education is to a successful future. 

While Guilford County is full of successful business owners, our local area has also been home to some of the most talented sports celebrities in the world. From high-level college athletes to some of the biggest stars in the NBA, NASCAR and even the NFL, each of these talented men and women will share his or her story and tell you why it takes more than an athletic ability to make a dream reality.

We begin with Miami Heat’s very own Center/Power Forward Bam Adebayo. This talented superstar, who recently competed in the NBA finals, attended high school in Guilford County and used his educational background to become the talent that he is today.

This famous Guilford County alumni fell in love with the sport of basketball around the time that his mother was giving him the nickname Bam Bam after the adopted son of Barney and Betty Rubble (yes, fans Bam is not his real name). Along with doing things like flipping over a coffee table like the show’s character, Adebayo continued to prove that he was a strong force to be reckoned with on the basketball court. 

As Adebayo’s athletic ability began to get noticed by coaches, including his long-time mentor Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) coach Kevin Graves (stay tuned for more information on this name soon), and other students at Northside High School in Pinetown, NC (better known as little Washington) the bright young student was also turning heads in the classroom.

“My mother was quick to teach me the valuable lesson that a good education was much more important than basketball at the end of the day,” said Adebayo. “In fact, she was always the first one to tell me that if I wanted to do something great with my life, I needed to pursue schoolwork first.” 

This encouragement as well as his increasing talent on the court, including making a name for himself within the AAU as well as National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) Top 100 High School Basketball Camp for elite high school athletes, eventually led the young man named after a Flintstones character to High Point Christian Academy for his final year of high school.  

While attending this area high school, which is well-known for its Commitment to Academic Excellence, Adebayo also led the HPCA Cougars to a NCISAA state championship appearance and played in the McDonald’s All-American Game and Jordan Brand Classic all before being named North Carolina’s Mr. Basketball in 2016. Around this time Adebayo committed to attend the University of Kentucky, where he not only continued to play the sport that he loved, but also pursued another passion.

“If I am honest, I always wanted to be a NBA player and the University of Kentucky has a great basketball program, but this school also has an amazing sports broadcasting program and I also have a dream to someday become a sports broadcaster,” said Adebayo. “This school gave me the perfect fit for both sides of my professional career and I cannot imagine having a better education or making more connections for both of my passions than Kentucky.”

As Adebayo’s professional career continued to take off, including taking the Kentucky Wildcats to a number one seed and an overall victory in the 2017 SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament, the former Guilford County athlete began to be recruited by the NBA. Although Adebayo left college in the summer of 2017, to become the 14th overall pick in the NBA draft by the Miami Heat, he also admits that he wishes he had finished his degree and is looking forward to the day when he accomplishes this goal.

“Although I did not finish college, my plan is to complete this education someday because it is so important. If you have a dream to do something big in life education has to be a part of it,” stressed Adebayo. “There are no athletes, governors or even a president who does not have some form of educational background. My advice to all of those reading this is to go after your dream but remember that obtaining an education for your chosen craft is essential to its success, which is why I am so glad that organizations like Say Yes Guilford exist to make this possible.”

 We thank Bam Adebayo for sharing his success story and look forward to bringing you more stories like his far into the future.