WAXAHACHIE

Ben Hunt said there are two ways to look at most any situation: “I didn’t get an opportunity” or “I will make an opportunity.”

Hunt, the Youth Basketball Director for the Dallas Mavericks, was at Waxahachie High School on Friday afternoon to speak to the members of the boys and girls’ basketball teams and students from the community service program as part of Waxahachie ISD Community Service Day. The event was headed by Debra DeNicola, Waxahachie High School community service coordinator.

Hunt told the students of his journey that took him from Australia to the United States to work with the Mavs.

“This hat is now 28 years old,” Hunt explained of a worn Dallas Mavericks cap that he keeps with him. “I got it when I was 12.”

Hunt didn’t just talk about his own success story — he also told about others. One of those accounts was about former Stephen F. Austin University player Danny Russell, who was with the team for two years.

“Didn’t play hardly at all, if at all every single game,” Hunt said. “But if he spoke in a room, everybody listened. He had the confidence in himself to share what he saw when he was sitting on the bench. What I believe he was doing was setting up for the future.”

Today, Russell is the head basketball coach at Katy High School in Houston.

“I believe he was using the opportunity that he got at SFA in Division I to sit there, watch the game, learn it, take it in, and lead him to where he is now.”

Waxahachie head boys' basketball coach Greg Gober said he's known Hunt for about a decade, and the person that talked to the kids was the same guy that he saw outside of the classroom.

“He doesn’t just make a powerpoint, come in, talk to a bunch of people, and that’s not really him when he walks out of the door,” Gober said. “That’s who he is.”

Basketball center Darrius Miles said he felt inspired by Hunt’s talk and was motivated to try even harder.

“I felt like it helped me realize that even if times get hard, you don’t quit,” the 6-foot-11 Miles said. “Keep going, even through adversity. He got told 'no' a lot, but he still achieved his goal.”

Hunt said he leaps on the opportunity to speak with the next generation every chance he gets.

“The next steps in their life are very important for the ultimate future,” Hunt said. “Any way we can have an impact on the students, then we all win.”

Hunt ended the presentation by handing out shirts to the kids and telling them that things will happen to them if they want them to, even though they might not happen right away.

“They may not happen when you walk out this door,” Hunt said. “But if you have a plan and a goal in your mind, and you surround yourself by those that can help you do that, the options are endless.”

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David Dunn, @DavidDunnInTX

469-517-1456