Covering Kentucky

Apr 30, 2013 5:41 PM

NBA Celebrity Avery Johnson Visits Lexington, Weighs In On Jason Collins

Former NBA coach Avery Johnson travels the country as a motivational speaker for middle and high-school students, encouraging kids to have the right mindset. The NBA celebrity grew up in the projects of New Orleans, and Tuesday he talked to students in Lexington at Henry Clay High School and Tates Creek Middle School about what it takes to climb the mountain of success.

The former coach of the Brooklyn Nets and Dallas Mavericks says he doesn't get nervous before speaking in front of a crowd. While speaking at Henry Clay High School, Coach Johnson's energy and message managed to hold the attention of students buzzing with end of school year jitters. He says his role in sports carries with it responsibility.

"We have a great impact on a lot of kids, and we take that responsibility very seriously. A lot of things that kids hear from their teachers and parents, we preach the same messages, but when it comes from us sometimes it resonates a little more with the kids," says Johnson.

The coach's visit to Lexington just happened to coincide with an historic moment in athletics. Jason Collins announcement to Sports Illustrated makes him the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American sport. LEX18 asked Coach Johnson about what everyone seems to be talking about.

"That's his own personal choice, and I think everybody has a personal choice and a personal feeling. I just think for me, the way I get my message out, is helping kids through impact in schools. And helping kids make really positive choices." says Johnson.

For the past three years, Avery Johnson has been a motivational speaker for the Dallas-based nonprofit "Just Say YES." "YES" stands for Youth Equipped to Succeed.

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