No. 780
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For 25 years, from 1972 until 1997, there was a man down in Baton Rouge, La., at the helm of the Louisiana State University basketball program by the name of Dale Brown. During this time, Dale Brown distinguished himself as few other coaches in the history of college basketball. In one stretch from 1984 until 1993, he took his teams to nine consecutive NCAA tournaments. Rather, I should say, while coaches are important, his teams took him, because the players are the ones who actually win the games. Here I am reminded of something the late Paul Eells, famous television sportscaster, used to say, “Poor coaching kept me from being an All American.”
Coach Brown’s record at LSU was 448 wins to only 301 losses. Only the legendary Adolph Rupp of Kentucky won more games in SEC history than LSU’s Brown. Brown and Rupp are the only coaches that had 17 non-losing seasons and Brown is the only coach to have increased his number of victories six years in a row. His most famous player was Shaquille O’Neal, two-time All American, who in 1991 was given the Adolph Rupp Trophy as NCAA men’s basketball player of the year. Today, Dale Brown is a highly sought after motivational speaker and is often called “The Master Motivator.” For more information, on his speaking and his books, go to his Web site:
While many people in America, especially sports fans, know the record and accomplishments of Coach Dale Brown, I dare to say that most people do not know his personal story and what motivated him to achieve outstanding success. While painful at the time, it’s a legacy that any of us would be blessed to have.
In Dale’s own words, he talks about the early influence his mother had on his life. He says, “I guess you could say that my story of faith started two days before I was born. Two days before I was born, my so-called father left my mother, two young sisters, 11 and 12 years of age, and me, and he never returned. His departure left my mother in a difficult position.
“She had an eighth-grade education, came off the farm in North Dakota, and couldn’t get a job during the Great Depression in 1935. In the cold prairies of North Dakota, she had to do two things that were very unpleasant for her: she became a baby sitter to earn money, and she had to put our family on welfare. We lived in a one-room apartment above a bar and hardware store, and I remember my mother getting $42.50 in Ward County welfare each month. She sat down and meticulously decided what breads and canned goods we could buy for the coming week. Several times during these difficult times, my mother taught me a lesson that has stayed with me during my entire life.
“Two times I saw my mother get on her winter coat, walk down a flight of stairs, and take back to the Red Owl and the Piggly Wiggly grocery stores 25 cents and 40 cents, because the clerks had given her too much change for the groceries she had brought home. Seeing her dress in the middle of winter, I said, ‘Mama, where are you going?’ She said, ‘Oh, I’m taking this money back to the store. They gave me too much change’.”
Dale continued by saying that his mother followed the advice of St. Francis of Assisi in the 13th century when he said, “Preach the gospel every day, and if necessary use words.” What I saw here was “Character and Adversity are Soul Mates,” and I bet you did, too. His basketball skills were a gift from God.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)

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