LYNCHBURG, Va. – About 100 kids filled the gym at the Jubilee Family Center in Lynchburg for the Shooting Stars basketball clinic. It was put on by Olympic medalist Vernell "Bimbo" Coles.
The Covington native was selected as the guest speaker for this year's Commonwealth games.
Coles said his presence was "just to come here and enjoy the experience for myself and maybe brighten up a kids day that maybe didn't have a good day yesterday; to be here and be part of something that's really good."
The standout guard spent 14 seasons in the NBA with five teams, following a stellar career at Virginia Tech. He holds the Hokies all-time scoring record and was the first Hokie to be an Olympic athlete. Coles is part of the Virginia Tech Hall of Fame and was inducted to the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame earlier this year.
"I put the work in every single day, whether I was playing basketball, baseball or thinking I was Joe Montana in football. I put the work in," Coles said. He won an NBA championship as a coach with the Miami Heat.
This morning's clinic was about more than the game of basketball but also a message of hope: that these kids can also be part of the 1 percent that make it to the NBA, regardless of their current situation.
"Nobody goes through life just having a picture perfect life. Kids these days have all kinds of obstacles and things they have to get over. I like to tell my story because I want them to understand that things were never given to me. You know I've been through the struggles and I've been knocked down a thousand times and it's all about getting back up and never giving up."