ACC, NBA legends in Rowan and Cabarrus this week to speak to students

Ralph Sampson, Al Wood, Gene Banks, Gerald Henderson tell personal stories to students
UNC star Al Wood, left, and Virginia star Ralph Sampson enjoy lunch between speaking...
UNC star Al Wood, left, and Virginia star Ralph Sampson enjoy lunch between speaking engagements on Tuesday.(David Whisenant-WBTV)
Published: Apr. 26, 2022 at 12:43 PM EDT
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SALISBURY, N.C. (WBTV) - Some well-known legends of the game of basketball are spending time in Cabarrus and Rowan this week speaking to students in local schools and colleges.

Formerly known as the Game Plan for Life, the ABC Upward program brings athletes to schools for motivational talks, often sharing their personal experiences. The talks focus on students making good life choices, including avoiding the practice of underage drinking. The program is sponsored by the Rowan/Kannapolis ABC Board.

“We’ve spoken to more than 215,000 students through these programs over the last 18 years,” said Terry Osborne of the Rowan/Kannapolis ABC Board.

On Tuesday Osborne hosted former ACC and NBA stars Ralph Sampson, Al Wood, Gerald Henderson, and Gene Banks, along with other guests at The Smoke Pit in Salisbury,

“You just get energized when you see kids that listen and learn, interact, maybe you’ve touched their lives in a certain way that they remember for a lifetime, just a little bit, one or two words they can be successful with, that’s what it’s all about,” Virginia basketball legend Ralph Sampson said. “They saw us play and they remember that and it’s a touchpoint in life where we touched somebody else, hopefully made them happy by playing, watching us play, or cheering against us as well, camaraderie, meeting people like you guys…it becomes special to continue the relationship and impact people who may not have seen us play, but hear our words.”

“I’ve seen a lot of kids that this program has really had a positive effect on their life, so that’s really inspirational for me personally,” UNC legend Wood added. “For us to be able to go and share a little bit of our knowledge and our experience with the young kids and to let them, see them get something out of it means a lot to us.”

The athletes spoke to students at North Rowan High, Salisbury High, and Henderson Independent High School on Monday, Carson and East Rowan on Tuesday, and will speak Wednesday at West and South Rowan, and Thursday at Cabarrus County Opportunity and A.L. Brown High School.

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