Michael Cooper

Determination. Dedication. Desire. Discipline. Decision-Making. These are the five words, the “5 Ds”, retired Los Angeles Laker and five-time NBA champion Michael Cooper shared with kids at Cesar Chavez Middle School in Lynwood on February 6.

“I went to school to play basketball,” said Michael. Over 75 students listened as he shared his struggles in school. Michael graduated high school with a low GPA and became academically disqualified in college. “I was an athlete student, but I had to become a student athlete.” When Michael finally decided to apply his 5 Ds to both basketball and school, he found he was more than just an athlete – he was also a smart student.

Michael was recruited by the University of New Mexico and won the Western Athletic Conference title before being drafted by the Lakers in 1978. He went on to win five championships in the 1980s with fellow teammates Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Throughout his journey, Michael’s 5 Ds have been his foundation for success on and off the court. And he encouraged our kids to apply these principles to their own lives. If they work hard, they can be anything – maybe even a professional basketball player!

Kids participating in our afterschool program get homework help and academic tutoring. Add in a local hero visiting your school, bouncing a basketball around with you, and inspiring you about the future? That’s a slam dunk.

Little schoolgirl smiling at camera