George Gervin, who led the Eastern Michigan University’s men’s basketball team to the Final Four of the NCAA College Division National Championship in 1971-72 and had a “stellar” NBA career, was named speaker for this year’s fall commencement speaker.
EMU President Susan Martin said the university is “delighted” to have Gervin as a speaker.
“George’s story is one of a young man who didn’t value education early in life but used his NBA basketball success and fame to give other young men and women a chance to get an education,” Martin said. “He has many life lessons and insights to offer our graduates from a man who is now committed to education, family and helping students.”
Born in Detroit, Gervin, 59, has seven organizations designed specifically for underprivileged kids with the goal of helping them realize how important education is.
“I personally stand as an example of how obstacles can be overcome and dreams achieved when you have people who believe in you and care enough,” Gervin said on his George Gervin Youth Center website.
“…I recognize how blessed I have been to have had a wonderful amateur and professional career in an area that I loved with all my heart. But, I regret I didn’t pay more attention to my education. I truly didn’t understand the value of a solid educational background… I stand committed to promoting education to every young person I meet and serve under the George Gervin Youth Center, Inc. umbrella.”
The non-profit organization provides vocational training, remedial education, mentoring, tutoring, job placement and supportive services for more than 1,400 of San Antonio’s at-risk and disadvantaged youth and their families.
Gervin earned All-American honors in 1971 and 1972 as a sophomore and finished his college career with 1,044 points and 562 rebounds, according to a media release.
Gervin left EMU in 1972 and began his pro basketball career with the Virginia Squires of the American Basketball Association. He played for the San Antonio Spurs and Chicago Bulls in the NBA.
In 2008, he received an honorary degree from EMU during a halftime presentation at a basketball game.
Gervin’s jersey was retired in 1986 and he was elected to the EMU Athletic Hall of Fame in 1993.
Fall commencement will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 18 at EMU’s Convocation Center.