On Saturday George Raveling will be presented with the John W. Bunn Lifetime Achievement award by the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, MA. For most who know George know him as the former coach at Washington State, Iowa, and USC. Some know him as being the Nike Executive that shaped their Grassroots Basketball program into the innovator that it is today. History buffs know him as the guardian of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “ I Have a Dream Speech”. I know him as a mentor to hundreds of people and more importantly one of my closest friends.
To take the time to list all of the achievements for him would not only take all day, but also would never do him justice. George is a special human being, not for being a basketball celebrity, but for using his fame to help shape people’s lives and help others.
In our society today there are very few people in positions of power that take the time to mentor others. Most take their fame and use it to help themselves achieve more and open more doors for selfish reasons. George uses his stature as a platform to help others in their careers and lives. Most of the information that you read on George is basketball or Martin Luther King related which are fascinating things.
What you won’t read about is the thousands of dollars he spends out of his own pocket purchasing books for others. He doesn’t just purchase interesting books out of the best seller rack at Barnes and Nobles, but specific self help books that fits the situation of the individual that he is trying to help. Many of those packages arrive at my house on a monthly basis. It’s unbelievable how much he pays attention to your conversations of what’s going on in your life and translates that into books, articles, or emails that have an precise impact in your life.
At the age of 76, most people tend to start to slow down in their life and stop to smell the roses. George continues to innovate and have an impact on so many. He surrounds himself with people that challenge him mentally to force him to think. Anytime he has free time in life you can always see him reading books and underlining interesting facts to use in his every day life. When spending time with him as he’s reading it’s common for him to stop at a certain point and read to whoever’s closest to him something interesting from the books that he’s reading from.
His website www.coachgeorgeraveling.com is a site that he developed to not only help coaches globally, but for anyone looking to better themselves in general. When you navigate through the site there are many basketball related articles and videos, but also a section on self help as well as book reviews. When speaking with him about this he told me that he wanted to be able to help not only basketball coaches, but the ordinary person that wanted to just be better. That’s just George being George the ultimate selfless person thinking 3 steps ahead of the game.
I remember the first time that we spoke 18 years ago. I was a sophomore in college calling to ask to work The Nike All America Camp. Expecting to get rejected George took the time to talk to me about my life and invited me to work camp. A year later at the eve of the 1997 camp my father passed away. I called George to tell him that I wouldn’t be able to work. Without hesitation George offered to leave camp and fly to be with me and my family. The camp was the most important event for Nike and George and offered to leave it in an instant to be with someone that he barely knew besides having a small working relationship. Again George being George.
When speaking to others that are friends with him they share so many different stories of George spending time to help them, fly to meet them to talk, or sending them self help book care packages in the mail. It’s remarkable to me the amount of time that he spends helping other people. That is what life is all about where you acquire all of this knowledge in a lifetime and share it with others to help themselves and other people in their lives. George always tells me that you should want to help others with the knowledge that you acquire because you can’t take it with you treating knowledge and life skills as it were money that you make over your lifetime.
Our world needs more people that look to help others. There are two types of managers. The first are the people that try to mentor and develop their employees to become successful in business and in life. The second are those who boss people around and want to be known for having power. Unfortunately our planet is filled with a lot more of power hungry intimidators than mentors. George is the ultimate example of someone that should be the example for all people in power to follow. As others use platforms to self promote themselves 24 hours a day without helping others, George uses his to develop others.
I’m so happy for George and his family and friends with winning this award. The Basketball Hall of Fame only brings the best into it’s walls. They are getting a good basketball coach and one of the best human beings that they can possibly have. Every conversation that we ever have together George always asks “Is there anything that I can be doing for you?” For once George sit back and enjoy others celebrating you. God knows you’ve earned it. Thank you for everything that you’ve ever done for me.