PUBLISHED: 1:50 PM on Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Coach Ken Carter shares legacy, lessons on life
Coach Carter raised the hands, touched the hearts and turned around hundreds who attended the Pillars of America speaker series on April 23. Literally, he had the crowd up and moving.

The series, in its 11th year and hosted by the Juneau Glacier Valley Rotary Club, welcomed guest speaker Coach Ken Carter, played by star Samuel L. Jackson in the movie "Coach Carter."

Naomi Judd photo
  Motivational speaker Coach Ken Carter gets the crowd up and moving during his presentation.
The famed high school head basketball coach from Richmond High School (Richmond, Calif.) is best known for creating a team who not only sunk winning shots, but also hit the books in a town where kids are 80 percent more likely to go to jail than college, he said. Every kid on Carter's team went on to college.

"Average is just not good enough, period," Carter said.

Within two years the coach had turned around students who were nearly failing their classes and got them to bring their grades up - as well as their outlook on life. He created a contract with each player which required them to treat others with respect, shun drugs and alcohol, participate in class, wear suits on game days and maintain a minimum of a 2.3 GPA.

Carter energetically engaged the attending crowd at the Pillars of America Speaker Series leaving them with the question:What is your legacy going to be?

Carter points out that every big shot at one time was a little shot.

"Being a winner is about setting standards high," Carter said.

Carter touched on setting goals and writing things down.

"When you write things down they are 10 times more likely to come true," he said, and added that he wrote down he would have a movie made about him when he was just a boy in a poor family, but he joked, it took 35 years for it to happen.

Carter grew up with seven sisters in a family that lived in Mississippi. Getting beat up by other kids was a daily event and being a seeker of knowledge was not "cool." Yet Carter jokes that those people are now asking him for jobs.

"Be nice to those nerds," he said. "One day they're going to be your boss."

Having access to good information is key in reaching your full potential, Carter said. Though how you use that knowledge is more important.

"Knowledge is not power, the use of knowledge is power," he said. "And I don't coach kids in basketball I teach them basketball, there's a big difference."

Carter said people often ask him about working with high-risk kids, and he tells them, "All kids are high risk."

"Kids may be one third of our population but they are 100 percent of our future," he said.

Besides coaching, Carter is the founder and chairman of the Coach Ken Carter Foundation, a non-profit organization, which develops and provides education, training and mentoring programs for minority youths.