Kinston High School Academic Banquet Speech

Kinston High School Academic Banquet Speech

Kinston High School Logo

KHS Academic Banquet


Mayor BJ Murphy

“Just Do It”


Good evening Kinston High! I stand before you a proud member of the Viking family. I wasn’t nearly as smart as some of you so this is only my second Academic Banquet. But only because I’ve been asked to speak at both of them.

Congratulations to all of you who have earned the right to be here.

(Recognize my father, Buster Murphy)

Your philosophies (what you think), drives your actions and your actions drives your results. I want to take a few moments here tonight to share with you some philosophies that have shaped me in to the person I am today.

See, I love that we’re in this gym tonight. Basketball is a sport that has created a culture of success for our community. Basketball is a team sport. Sure, there are great players, but none of them can win without a team.

Coaches can only be great coaches if they put the right mix of players together.

So too is and will be your success in life.

A mentor of mine once said, “BJ you are combination of the 5 people you hang around the most. Consider your future goals and aspirations, your health, your finances, your career choice and more. Now who are the 5 people you spend the most time with? You will see that in many ways you are just like them.”

Wow, I thought to myself. So I said, “Self, what changes do I need to make?”

Two of my 5 people were negative influences in my life. See, I want to surround myself with people who are closer to God, make more money, give more of their time, have integrity and so on. So, I cut them off. Now, I didn’t tell them that, but I did stop hanging around them as much.

Being intentional about what’s influencing you is important to your success in school and in life.

Another philosophy that has helped shape me that I hope to impart on you this evening is the difference between your standards and your goals. At the beginning of each of the seasons represented by these banners, the coaches and the players agreed that their goal was to win the conference, advance to regionals and win a state championship.

We all can agree that’s a valid goal. But let’s explore what a standard is.

Did you wake up this morning and set a goal to brush your teeth?

Did you say, “Oh, I will work so hard to make sure I put that toothpaste on the brush?”

See, I hope we all can agree that brushing your teeth and presenting yourself in a positive light is a standard.

Your goals can become your standards.

If you are here for your second, third or fourth Academic Banquet, then please stand. (applause)

What once was a goal has now become a standard for you. What once was a goal to win championships in Kinston is now a standard for this community. Kinston is proud of our young people. We are proud of who you are. We are proud of what you’ve achieved. And because of this environment of success, we expect you to do your best.

We expect you to achieve greatness.

And we expect more banners to be hung in this building.

But, we also expect you to be here next year. And seniors, we expect academic success from you at the next level. We expect it, because you’ve proven yourself capable.

One philosophy that has changed my life involves the Cheetah and the Gazelle and it’s called “Gazelle Intensity”.

You are probably thinking, “what in the world is gazelle intensity?” I’ll get back to that in a moment.

First, I’d like to encourage each of you to take the time to set your goals for the summer and for the remainder of 2014. What do you want to achieve? Who do you want to bless? What do you want? Then how will you get it?

Once you’ve done that you need to have “gazelle intensity”. Dave Ramsey, who authored the book called “The Total Money Makeover” introduced me to gazelle intensity.

You can’t just plan out your goals…you have to run as if your life depended on them.

Cheetahs run fast, really fast—as in 70 to 75 mph fast at their top speeds. The cheetah is the fastest animal on earth, so the gazelle doesn’t have a chance, right? Wrong! Gazelles have learned that the cheetah’s speed is limited to straight-line running. So the gazelle bobs and weaves and runs in circles until the cheetah gets tired and gives up.

The gazelle is so intense during these few moments that a cheetah only catches it in one out of nineteen chases.

I want to challenge you to focus your energies on your goals like the gazelle.

Do you want to be on this platform next year?

Do you want to earn scholarship money for school?

Or do you want to finish first place in your competition?

Figure out what you want to do, map out how you are going to do it, put sticky notes on your mirror and write it in your journal, and then focus with the intensity of a gazelle like your life depended on it.

The City of Kinston has goals. Each year we craft a budget. Each year we review our progress. But the only way we can succeed in creating an environment of success is by relying on the future success of our young people. See, without you, the Global TransPark is a dream. Without you, there’s no need to keep searching for a baseball team. Without you, there’s no need to put money into Holloway and Fairfield. Because without you, none of our work makes any sense.

Kinston has a bright future. But Kinston only has a bright future because you are here tonight.

Kinston loves you. We are proud of you. And once you’ve gone off into this world to achieve great things, we want you back home to help the next generation of kids.

What you’ve achieved is significant. For most of you it was not easy. It was hard.

Life is hard too. But take a look up for a moment.

Looking up at these banners is inspiring. These banners aren’t just for decorations. They are a constant reminder that winning is a part of our culture in Kinston. They provide inspiration to our players when times are tough. When they’re down by a few points. When the clock is working against them.

Thinking of the greats who have played here is impressive. Names like Reggie Bullock, Jerry Stackhouse, Craig Dawson, Michael Dunn, Quinton Coples, Josh Dawson, Jeremy Ingram, Michael Jenkins, Denzel Keyes, Angelo Keyes and I could go on and on and on.

They are all winners. They are all from your neighborhood. What makes a winner?

Winners simply take action. They don’t just think about something, they do something.

And you can ask my wife, I’m not a big fan of excuses. I don’t do whining. When I was four years old, my mother was kidnapped, raped and murdered. My father withstood this incredible test of adversity and showed how prayer and “knee-o-logy” as he calls it can change your attitude. This event left a family split, which led to a new family for me and my siblings and our world changed in an instant.

Several years later, one of my sisters contracted two different forms of Leukemia and Cancer. Again, our course in life drastically changed through this circumstance. I vividly remember the jaundice face, bloated cheeks, hairless little 13 year old girl. Her mouth was so full of sores that she couldn’t take a sip of water. I remember taking a Q-tip, dipping it in water just to quench her thirst. But, God is good and today that little lady is now a married and successful woman, who’s building a house and raising an infant son.

You say, “But BJ, oh I came from such and such a block.”

Great. Just do it.

“No, no you don’t understand. See I was raised by a single mom.”

Wonderful. Just do it.

“Mayor, we live paycheck to paycheck and it’s hard just to pay the rent.”

Super Duper. Just do it.

What do winners do….they do it and do it and do it and do it.

“But coach, I forgot….Teacher I lost…Mom, she said this…”

Excellent. Just do it.

It’s not the disasters and disappointments in life that determine who you are, it’s how you respond to these circumstances. The same wind blows on us all. The winds of opportunity, challenge, adversity and prosperity. It’s not the wind you should concern yourself with, its how you set your sail.

Take action today on whatever you desire the most in life.

Because if you do today what others won’t, you’ll have tomorrow what others don’t.



KFP: Reggie Bullock, “I finally made it”

Bullock overcomes odds to reach NBA


Reggie Bullock (center) reacts to hearing his name called during the NBA draft on Thursday. Bullock was taken 25th overall by the Los Angeles Clippers.

Janet S. Carter / The Free Press

Published: Friday, June 28, 2013 at 18:41 PM.

The memories of what it was like growing up in east Kinston will forever linger in Reggie Bullock’s mind.

The drugs. The gangs. The hardships that come with being raised in “the projects.” But Bullock refused to let the negativity that surrounded his upbringing define who he is and be the deciding factor in what he was going to do with his life.

On Thursday, with roughly 75 friends and family members gathered in a side room at the Woodmen Community Center, Bullock watched on a large, pull-down screen as NBA Commissioner David Stern announced that the Los Angeles Clippers had selected him with the 25th overall pick in this year’s NBA draft.

In almost an instant the 6-foot-7, 205-pound swingman’s life changed. What became commonplace to him as a child is something Bullock will never have to worry about going back to.

But his upbringing is at the center of the strength, courage and drive that he has today.

“I finally made it, I finally made it,” Bullock said, smiling from ear to ear. “Just hearing my name called, it’s a blessing for me.

“It’s a blessing to be in this position, making it to the NBA. But the work don’t stop here. I still got a long way to go to prove myself that I belong there. I’m ready for the challenge.”


An example

Bullock was raised by his grandmother, Patricia Williams, who passed away while he was a freshman at UNC.

Williams, a minister, saw to it that Bullock did the right thing and made the right choices. The homework and chores had to be completed before he could go to the gym. His top priority was attending church.

Even with such negative outside influences, Bullock had a solid foundation in his home.

“You had to convince Grandma to let him play,” said retired Rochelle Middle School basketball coach Alexander “Skeet” Davis, a mentor of Bullock’s. “I’ll never forget. I was going to put him on a little tournament team and she said, ‘He’s got to go to church.’ I said, ‘You let him practice, I’ll bring him to church.’ I’ve always felt like he was special.”

Special enough to separate himself from the haves and have nots.

“He’s had it hard. I can identify with him because I’m also, out at Tarboro, from the projects — Eastside homes,” Davis said. “Don’t nobody expect nothing good to come out of the hood, but they do.

“It don’t matter where you’re come from, it’s what you do to get yourself right.”

Bullock went to work on his game at a young age. In middle school he heard the comparisons to Kinston native Jerry Stackhouse, who just completed his 18th season in the NBA.

Bullock told the Raleigh News and Observer in March about a time when he banked in a 3-pointer as a youngster playing against Stackhouse in a pick-up game. That’s when he knew he had a shot at doing something great.

Bullock has worked hard to hone his craft since, and has become a beacon of hope for a city which needs one.

“What is so beautiful about this story is the adversity that Reggie has overcome. To be where he is, it shows all these young men and all these young ladies that are in the streets and in the schools that they can achieve it, too,” Kinston Mayor B.J. Murphy said. “But it takes hard work, perseverance, it takes mentors … it takes the kids to take one step and all these other folks, the mentors, to take a couple of them with them.”



What Bullock knows to be home and what will become his home are two different places.

Los Angeles is a mecca for the entertainment industry, from movies to music to professional sports.

Bullock was drafted by one of the more popular franchises in the NBA. He’ll play his home games in the Staples Center, with big time Hollywood celebrities sitting courtside.

NBA all-star and Clippers point guard Chris Paul, who sponsors an AAU team Bullock used to play for, tweeted his excitement of playing with Bullock in the future.

“Congrats to (Reggie Bullock) on being drafted,” the tweet read. “He was on my 1st 15 and Under CP3 All-Stars team. (hashtag)teamCp3”

The Clippers, who chose Bullock with their only draft pick this year, also recently dealt for former Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers.

Rivers’ son, Austin, played for Duke for one season and coach Rivers attended his games regularly.

Coach Rivers had his eye on Bullock before making the move to the West Coast, he said.

“I like him,” Rivers told the Associated Press. “That’s one of the guys that we wanted. We felt like we needed more shooting and he does that.

“Having been a guy that went to a lot of Duke games and Duke-North Carolina games, I got to see him up close. He has size, can play the small forward position, he can shoot it on the catch and he can defend. Those are all of the things that we targeted, and that’s what we got.”

Bullock’s mother, Danielle Brown, was so excited for her son Thursday that she had trouble putting her emotions into words.

“It’s exciting. When he was little and playing ball I never thought of (him going to the NBA),” she said.

“I feel OK about (him being so far away). One day I’m going to be there.”



Bullock will sign his first professional contract soon, move to L.A., and begin his new life as a professional athlete.

In the near future he will receive a hefty signing bonus to go along with his guaranteed two-year contract, which has club options for a third and fourth season. He’ll also make, according to the league’s rookie salary scale, around $1 million in salary next season. But money isn’t something that has driven Bullock.

As he’s said, time and time again, “I put on for my city.”

He showed home much home means to him when he decided to find out his professional destination here surrounded by those who love him and led him in the right direction instead of New York.

Bullock’s tattoos are a constant reminder of what Kinston means to him.


“I think it says a lot about Reggie. I think it says a lot about his character. It says a lot about his family. The biggest thing is, I think, he wanted to have it here because he just loves Kinston. It’s not in Chapel Hill, it’s in Kinston,” former Kinston High basketball coach Wells Gulledge said.

“This night is about the journey of Reggie Bullock.”

And quite the journey it has been, but it’s not over.

Bullock still has to continue to work. No doubt he wants to earn a starting spot along side Paul and superstar forward Blake Griffin. No doubt he wants to earn a second contract 10 times as big as the first.

But no matter what happens next, it’s the last 22 years that Bullock can hang his hat from.

“It’s not going to change me as a person. I’m still going to be humble about where I come from,” Bullock said. “It’s just great to go out there and play with a good team.”

KFP: Reggie Bullock drafted by Clippers

Reggie drafted

Reggie Bullock, left, shares a light moment with high school friends, Dory Hines, Dajonte Wise and Curtis “Nootsie” Hines at Bullock’s NBA draft party at the Woodmen Community Center Thursday night.

Janet S. Carter / The Free Press

Published: Friday, June 28, 2013 at 00:05 AM.

Reggie Bullock is NBA bound.

Bullock, who decided to forego the bright lights and the limelight of television to be a part of a small gathering at the Woodmen Community Center in Kinston, was drafted by the Los Angeles Clippers with the 25th overall pick in the first round of the 2013 NBA Draft on Thursday.

Bullock’s selection made him Kinston’s sixth native to be taken in the draft, joining Cedric Maxwell (1977), Mitchell Wiggins (1983), Charles Shackleford (1988), Jerry Stackhouse (1995) and Herbert Hill (2007).

The announcement — Bullock watched on a pull-down screen in a side room at the Woodmen Community Center — came with an eruption of cheers and salutations for the biggest athlete basketball-wise to come through Kinston in quite some time.

“I just had to be patient and wait for my time; my time came at the right time,” an elated Bullock said. “I’m real comfortable with this position that I’m in, going to the Clippers. So, I’m just grateful — me, my family and friends.

“I’m just glad that everybody came out to support (me).”

Being drafted, no matter in what slot and to what team, has been Bullock’s goal all along.

“This is what I dreamed of, Day 1, since I played basketball at Holloway, growing up on Bright Street. This is what I’ve dreamed of,” the 22-year-old said. “My chance is here. One of the easiest parts is getting here. One of the hardest parts is staying. So I’m just going to go in there from Day 1 and work, and hopefully I’m just going to try and help the organization out as best as possible.”

Retired Rochelle Middle School basketball coach Alexander “Skeet” Davis helped mentor Bullock out at Holloway Recreation Center.

As he watched Bullock enter the Woodmen Community Center on Thursday, he was taken back to the days when Bullock would do anything to be on a basketball court.

“I’m blessed to see this day,” Davis said. “I didn’t do anything special. I just did what Mr. Davis wanted to do, and that’s work with the kids. I’m so proud for him, so glad for him.

“Reggie had that drive, that work ethic, he had the manners. He’s just one of a kind.”

Former Kinston High School principal Wynn Whittington had the privilege of watching Bullock grow into a talented young man.

Whittington knew Bullock had a special talent and was a special student at a young age.

“It’s special for all of us; it’s special for Kinston — not just the community but Kinston High School,” he said. “It’s another player who’s come through the ranks and had a tremendous impact on the school and the community and is a role model for younger folks. We’re just real proud of him and what his accomplishments are.”

Bullock’s draft day was something Whittington came to expect.

“Absolutely,” he said, when asked if he felt Bullock would someday play in the NBA. “Reggie’s work ethic and personality and the way he was raised — to work hard and to prioritize things — and he made school and basketball a priority, and he’s reaping the dividends today.”

For Kinston Mayor B.J. Murphy, Thursday’s achievement is something the community should be accustomed to.

“It’s always good to celebrate successes in the community, especially when it’s one of your native sons achieving a tremendous amount of success. And the good thing is, Kinston should be used to it,” Murphy said. “This is really a standard of who we are, and that’s why we’re so proud of Reggie. He’s continuing to meet that standard.”


Ryan Herman can be reached at 252-559-1073