Big Ups: Ex-NBA Star Kenny Anderson Earns Degree
Being a New York City point guard is a pretty big deal. The long and storied lineage runs from old-timers like Bob Cousy all the way to guys like Stephon Marbury(notes) and Sebastian Telfair(notes). If you’re good at playing point in NYC, odds are you’ll become a legend throughout the city.
However, the biggest of all the big deals is probably Kenny Anderson, who is the only player in history to be named all-city all four years of high school and is called “the best high school player I’ve ever seen” by scouts who have been watching basketball for 50 years. After a Final Four and two years at Georgia Tech, Anderson hit the NBA as the second overall pick in the 1991 draft. And while his NBA career was nothing to write home about, he banked about $60 million.
Then, when his career came to a close in 2005, he was broke. Between cars, seven children with five women and loving to party, Anderson was without a job, money or a diploma. So he went back to school, and this Saturday he’ll be graduating with a degree in organizational leadership.
A neighbor told him about the Institute for Professional Studies at St. Thomas, so he enrolled for his online program by himself — without a cadre of helpers hovering over him. He began working with an adviser, Jennifer Booker, who is a professor.
“What surprised me,” Booker said, “was the way he was willing to give credit to people who helped him, like a former trainer.” She watched him handle the online classes, but from the other side of the electronic connection she could not gauge the terror of a star who had once performed in arenas and now had to produce a paper.
“I’d ask people for help,” Anderson said. “This wasn’t like college. They’d say, ‘I’ll give you an idea, but you have to do the work yourself.'” He almost quit a few times but found a comfortable routine, helping get Ken Jr. and his wife’s daughter, Tiana, also 9, off to school. Then he would take off to Starbucks and study.
Big ups, Kenny Anderson. This kind of thing just makes you feel good. Not the losing $60 million part obviously, but the responding to that by doing something constructive part. That’s excellent.
Anderson is currently giving private lessons to basketball hopefuls, but he’s hoping for something bigger. Whether that ends up being coaching somewhere or something else, now that he’s got his degree, he’s got options. Very cool.