Stay in School Kicks Off 22nd Year

Jason Collins, Kris Joseph and Walter McCarty pose with students from the Lyndon
Jason Collins, Kris Joseph and Walter McCarty pose with students from the Lyndon School.

WEST ROXBURY, Mass. – The Stay in School program, presented by Arbella Insurance, kicked off its 22nd year Tuesday afternoon at the Lyndon K-8 School. As Celtics players Jason Collins, Kris Joseph and Celtics legend Walter McCarty entered the school, they were welcomed by kindergarten and first grade students lining the hallway to the auditorium.

“That was one of the best welcomes I have ever had,” said McCarty. “All of the students were wearing Celtics green and genuinely excited to serve as ambassadors to their school.”

The trio hosted a school assembly to speak about the acronym P.R.I.D.E., which stands for perseverance, respect, integrity, dedication and education.

“The three of us here today all received college degrees,” said McCarty. “Jason graduated from Stanford, Kris from Syracuse and me from Kentucky. We were very fortunate enough to use our basketball abilities to get our education that is going to last forever. Basketball is a short time but your education lasts forever. It’s the most important thing I’ve ever accomplished. Every day you all come to school, you’re investing in your future. Hopefully, by the time you all graduate college, you’ll be able to reap the rewards.”

Celtics rookie Joseph elaborated on the importance of getting an education. “I went to Syracuse University for four years and after my sophomore year I had a decision to make to either come back to school or leave early and enter the NBA draft. For my parents, it was very big that I graduate from a university. People often say they will leave early and come back and get their degree, but I know that it’s very hard for someone to do especially while they’re pursuing an NBA career. I knew the NBA wasn’t going anywhere and would still be here when I was ready to leave and I stayed in school and was able to get my degree in childhood education. It was a tough decision to make but to see the smile on my mother’s face when I walked on stage to get my degree was a memory that no one can ever take away from me and that’s one of the best feelings I’ve ever been a part of.”

Collins then spoke to the youth about persevering no matter how difficult the circumstances may be.

“When I was in high school, I was a McDonald’s All-American which is the top basketball honor you can get. I went to Stanford University and during my first two years of college, I got hurt. I had two knee surgeries my freshman year and my sophomore year. I dislocated my right wrist. You have eight bones in your wrist and seven of mine moved out of position. To make matters worse, it was my shooting hand. I was in a cast and rehab for about six months. When I first got back out onto the court, I was standing very close to the basket, shot the ball and didn’t have enough strength in my arm, wrist and hand to get the ball up to the basket. Through hard work and relying on my support system, family friends, coaches and teammates, I was able to get back onto the court and worked so hard that I became a better shooter after my injury than I was before. I know a lot of you are going to have adversity and obstacles you’re going to have to overcome. It would have been very easy for me to be discouraged but that’s not the person I am and not the person you all want to be. When you have obstacles and adversity, rely on your support system and you can overcome anything.”

Select students stayed behind to have a more intimate question and answer session with the athletes after the assembly. Topics ranged from playing in the NBA to how tough college courses were.

As the players left the Lyndon School, it was apparent that the students had absorbed every word from their guests.