August 2, 2012 in Professional
Former Flint Northern and Michigan State star and current Fox Sports Detroit analyst Mateen Cleaves is known for basketball, obviously, but in the years since his playing days ended, he’s also been an advocate for education. Dominick Mastrangelo of MLive Lansing reports that Cleaves recently gave the keynote address at the Ingham Academy graduation:
“I was in your shoes,” Cleaves said during his address. “I had to pull myself from the inner city. I suggest you do the same. Today is a major step in the right direction.”
Cleaves grew up in urban Flint and came from a disadvantaged background. After the ceremony, Cleaves said because of how similar his upbringing was to many of the 2012 graduates, his message was special.
“These kids will know if you’re faking it,” he said. “I wanted to really drive home the importance of hard work. It’s what got me to where I am in life and it can be the key to their success too.”
Working in Flint for a handful of years, I saw Cleaves speak to kids in a variety of settings, and education is always foremost among his talking points. This quote from Cleaves in a State News story by Joey Nowak in 2010 is always one that has stuck with me:
“Kids don’t think outside the streets of Flint,” Cleaves said. “They think, ‘My dad was a drug dealer, my mom was on drugs, so that’s what I’ve got to do.’ They think that s—- is cool. I talk about college and make it seem like heaven.”