Former NBA player to speak at all-school assembly

john amaechi speakingJohn Amaechi, the first professional basketball player to come out as openly gay, will speak at an all-school assembly April 10, as well as a parent meeting later that evening in Ahmanson Lecture Hall on behalf of the Black Leadership and Culture Club and the Gay-Straight Alliance, hwchronicle reported.

Amaechi will be speaking to students, faculty, parents and other members of the community about bullying, cyber-bullying and athletic hazing.

He has been called “one of the world’s most high-profile gay athletes” by BBC United Kingdom.

“As an athlete, a Brit, a brilliant public speaker and a black, gay man, Mr. Amaechi represents a lot of different social identities and interests,” GSA leader Patric Verrone ’13 said.

“Being the first NBA player to come out, we know that he will have a lot to say about the prejudices that we as a community are all trying to erase.”

The GSA’s faculty adviser Ed Hu suggested and got in contact with Amaechi, Verrone said. The organization contacted the BLACC and asked them to collaborate with them on the event, coming together to emphasize awareness and tolerance in the community, a common goal between the two organizations, Verrone said.

Amaechi, originally from the United Kingdom, played as a center for Vanderbilt and Penn State and then moved on to the NBA to play for the Cleveland Cavaliers in 1995.

He spent two years playing in Europe before moving back to the United States to sign with the Orlando Magic. He then played for the Utah Jazz for the last two years of his professional basketball career.

Aside from his sexuality, Amaechi is also well-known for turning down a $17 million contract offer from the Los Angeles Lakers in 2000.

He is now a psychologist, a New York Times bestselling author, and the owner of Amaechi Performance Systems, a consultancy working with numerous blue chip brands to improve leadership and communication skills and organizational diversity, according to their website.

“I hope that people will understand more about tolerance and being open to different types of people,” BLACC leader Miles Williams ’14 said. “Given that the speaker is both black and gay, I feel like it will give people an insight to dealing with two obstacles that might have caused him to be judged during his life.”

“The GSA’s goal has always been to engender an environment of acceptance, fairness, and kindness among persons of all sexual, gender, racial and religious identities, both in Harvard-Westlake and in the greater community,” Verrone said. “We expect that Mr. Amaechi’s experiences and observations can further this goal even more.”

Amaechi spent 5 years in the NBA, playing for Cleveland, Orland and Utah. His best season, with Orlando Magic (99-00), Amaechi averaged 10.5 ppg and 3.3 rpg per game, playing 80 games (53 started), in 21.1 minutes per match.

Despite being 6’10, Amaechi was never a great shooter, averaging only 40 percent of shooting from the field in his career.

Amaechi played a total of 294 NBA games (93 started), averaging 6.2 ppg and 2.6 rpg in 16.4 minutes per game.


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