Earl Monroe

Philly native Earl Monroe played for the Baltimore Bullets and the New York Knicks.

— AP Photo/Richard Drew

Earl Monroe made some exciting moves during his NBA career. Monroe is now making some great moves for many students who may not be basketball standouts like himself, but could get a terrific education while receiving a good foundation for a career in sports.

Monroe, a former Bartram High, Winston-Salem State, Baltimore Bullets and New York Knicks star, has a charter school named after him, the “Earl Monroe New Renaissance Basketball School.”

The charter school opened for 110 freshmen that will provide them with a great opportunity in education as well as sports at a former Catholic school in the Mott Haven section of South Bronx, New York.

“It’s big for me,” Monroe said. “There’s no doubt. It’s very big for these kids that are going to take advantage of this opportunity. It’s something that is going to impact them. It’s going to give them a leg up on what they want to do for the rest of their lives.

“We got a lot of different things they can major in with the New York state curriculum. They can go into broadcast, print journalism, design, marketing and other areas. All these things are a part of the game itself.”

During the 1980s, Monroe had a summer school for students that resembled the new school, but this school is special in terms of the opportunities the school offers to students.

This concept grabbed the interest of Dan Klores, the Peabody Award-winning director of the basketball documentary “Black Magic” and founder of the New Renaissance Basketball Association, a nonprofit organization that helps youngsters through education and former NBA commissioner David Stern, a founding trustee of the school.

“I met Earl through [current NBA commissioner] Adam Silver many years ago,” Klores said. “I got to know him through Black Magic [Monroe was a co-producer of the documentary]. I had no an idea. I said to Earl, ‘What do you think of this? When I grew up in New York City there were specialized high schools for math and science. In recent times, there are many specialized high schools for American history, advertising and political science.

“Just like any major city, basketball is king. It’s called the city game. Earl, let’s do a school, a specialized school for basketball, but not for the playing of basketball. They can be a part of the game where you can learn the business of the game, finance of the game, law, nutrition, digital reporting, coaching and other areas.

“In addition, we’ll have a mandatory curriculum — English, math, foreign language and history. We will prepare them for the next step, college or careers. We will give them summer internships. We will have a mentor from the private sector one-on-one. We want to make an impact in the community.”

The charter school is privately funded. It has a class size of 18-20 students and they were chosen by lottery. Ted Blunt, who was a teammate of Monroe on those magnificent Winston-Salem State basketball teams coached by the late Clarence “Big House” Gaines, and a former President of the Wilmington (Delaware) City Council is very impressed with the new charter school. Blunt feels Monroe’s school will open the doors for many students in regards to getting an education and being involved in sports.

“He should be commended on having that kind of foresight,” Blunt said. It’s not just about basketball or athletics. But to think about the potential growth as it pertains to employment opportunities especially for young people that only that only think singular. This is a multiple facet approach that allows them to be involved in athletics, but not necessarily be an athlete.”

Monroe, who grew up in Philadelphia, knows the importance of making a difference in the lives of young people.

“I was always taught to give back,” Monroe said. “That’s what I try to do over the course of my career and life or whatever. Looking at other people and seeing what they’ve done have also shaped the direction in terms of my own life, knowing how tough it is, especially for kids of color. We try to move ahead out here. It’s important to have those role models and instances where they can move and see where they’re going.”

Earl Monroe is leading the way for young people.

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