Former NBA star Ben Wallace honored in White Hall, he and Central Class of ’92 help schools and community center with donations

Published 4:23 pm Saturday, August 13, 2016

Former Detroit Pistons NBA Star Ben Wallace shows his World Championship ring to Rayderick McDonald during Ben Wallace Appreciation/Fun Day held Saturday, Aug. 13.

Former Detroit Pistons NBA Star Ben Wallace shows his World Championship ring to Raydrick McDonald during Ben Wallace Appreciation/Fun Day held Saturday, Aug. 13.

By Fred Guarino

The Lowndes Signal

Former NBA star Ben Wallace, a native of White Hall who played his high school years at Central High Hayneville where he graduated in 1992, was celebrated by his hometown  of White Hall on Saturday, Aug. 13 with Ben Wallace Appreciation/Fun Day.

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At the event, Wallace and the CHS Class of 1992, which honored him, announced donations of $10,000 to Central High, $5,000 to the Jackson-Steele Community Center and $5,000 to Jackson-Steele Elementary School.

Wallace played 11 years of his 16-year NBA career with the Detroit Pistons.

He is the only NBA player in history to have 1,000 rebounds, 100 blocks and 100 steals in four consecutive seasons.

He was one of three players in NBA history to record 150 blocks and 100 steals in seven consecutive seasons.

He was one of five players in NBA to lead the NBA in rebounding and blocking averages in the same season.

He was one of three players in NBA history to average 15 rebounds and three blocks per game on a season along with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bob McAdoo.

He was the only undrafted players in NBA history to be voted a starter for the NBA All-Star Game.

He was NBA Defensive Players of the Year in 2002,2003,2005,2006 and All Defense First Team in those same years.

Wallace thanked everyone and said it was a “pleasure and honor” to be in White Hall Saturday.

He said he traveled all over the world, but it was an honor to stand before family and friends and teachers. He said he played football at Central and that his former football coach Nathaniel Hayes’ mark and presence remained with him throughout his career.

He said while his journey has been in basketball. Hayes was one of the first people to believe in him and gave him the opportunity to go out and prove himself to the world.

While Wallace said he became a great basketball players, he said it all started for him on the football field.

Wallace  thanked his classmates for being a part of his life, lifting him up and keeping him humble. He said he’s walked through the White House, but there is nothing like home.

 Wallace  said he’s been on 16-year journey in the NBA, “Now it is time to uplift my community and make some changes.”

Monique Jackson Gordon served as mistress of order. Courtney Meadows, pastor of the First Missionary Baptist Church of White Hall brought the prayer. And Denise Howard brought the welcome.

State Sen. Hank Sanders presented a resolution from the Alabama State Senate commending Wallace on outstanding athletic achievement.

Sanders said, “This is so important things for our children because our children they look out there and see all kinds of odds against them, and they decide they can’t make it. But Brother Ben Wallace graduated from college and wasn’t drafted. But that didn’t stop him. He went overseas and played and then ended up coming back and being among the best in his position. That just says to our young people what can happen when you don’t let nothing stop you and you keep trying.”

Lowndes County District Court Judge Adrian D. Johnson said court systems “issue orders and nobody likes to get the orders that we issue.” But he said he wanted to be present Saturday as president of the Alabama Juvenile Judges Association to commend Wallace not only for his career, but what he said was more important “standing up and showing children not only of Lowndes County but throughout the state of Alabama that through hard work and dedication you can accomplish anything. You can reach the heights of the NBA or the heights of any profession that they choose…”

Lowndes County Commissioners Brenson Crenshaw and Carnell McAlpine represented the commission in presenting a plaque to Wallace.

McAlpine said Wallace showed “something good can come from Lowndes County.”

White Hall Mayor James Walker welcomed everyone to the town on behalf of himself and the White Hall Town Council. He said he taught Wallace in a class on building construction. And as Wallace was born Sept. 10, 1974 in White Hall, is a 1992 graduate of Central High, won a World Championship with the Detroit Pistons in 2004 and his number 3 was retired in 2016 by the Pistons, Walker said he and the council proclaimed Aug. 13, 2016 as Ben Wallace Day.

White Hall Council member Eli Seaborn, who also served as former Lowndes County School Superintendent, said he knew Wallace all of his life. He said he was proud of all the students who have come through the Lowndes County School System. But he said Wallace gave all he had and that is paid off for him not only financially but as an individually. “We are so proud of Mr. Wallace and his accomplishments… what he had done. And I’m proud to say I had something to do with this young man… and proud that you (Wallace) are from White Hall.”

Nathaniel Hayes, Wallace’s football coach at Central was a surprise attendant to the event. He said, “It was a pleasure to coach Ben.”

Michael Woods of the Central High Class of 1992 presented Wallace with his high school basketball jersey.

And in a somber moment, candles were lighted for four classmates from the Class of ’92 who passed away.

Presentations were also made to Wallace from Alabama’s 7th District Congresswoman Terri Sewell and a resolution from the State House of Representatives from State Rep. Kelvin Lawrence, who both could not attend.

Reflecting on the day:

Joy Dorshanni Kelly, who organized the Appreciation/Fun Day for Wallace, said what Wallace did was a great accomplish from someone from Lowndes County and her class that should be recognized. She also said, “Maybe just maybe if it changes one child, then our work is not in vain.”

Walker said, “Oh this a great day.” He said he was overwhelmed that the Class of ’92 put the day together for Wallace.

Crenshaw said, “It’s great to honor one of our own… Ben is a prime example of you can make it if you will just dedicate yourself to doing it.”

McAlpine said it was a honor for him just to be in Wallace’s presence and “to know he (Wallace) comes from Lowndes County, the Lowndes County Public School System and a Lowndes County family and went on to be great.”

Sanders, “It tells our children that you can overcome great odds… And without these kinds of celebrations, they won’t even know about it.”

Johnson said it was great opportunity for White Hall and Lowndes County to honor one of its finest citizens “to honor a young man that went from Lowndes County to heights of professional basketball and still comes back to remember his community. It’s a wonderful day.”