Attorney General Meets with Basketball Team

The GW men’s basketball team scored a rare opportunity to tour the Department of Justice and talk to Attorney General Eric Holder.

April 08, 2009

By Jaime Gacek

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder used a page from his personal playbook to encourage the GW men’s basketball team to prepare for success.

The nation’s first African American leading law officer told the student-athletes during a visit at the U.S. Department of Justice that dedication and discipline are essential on and off the court.

“Especially for young people, he gives us hope, he gives us this sign that we can do whatever we want if we focus,” says point guard Travis King, a redshirt junior on the team.

The players got a chance to chat with Mr. Holder on Sept. 21 as part of the team’s mentoring program, which partners with successful professionals in the Washington, D.C., community.

Leroy Charles, assistant vice president for development and government relations at GW Medical Center, is a personal friend of Mr. Holder’s and set up the visit. The players toured the Department of Justice building before shaking hands and snapping photos with Mr. Holder, who was installed as attorney general in a ceremony last spring at GW’s Lisner Auditorium. He also received an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University in 1998.

Coach Karl Hobbs says the meeting was a chance for a remarkable role model to emphasize education. “At some point, the air goes out of the basketball, and we want these players to understand that there are opportunities outside of sports where they can contribute to society,” Coach Hobbs says.

Mr. King, who presented Mr. Holder with a GW basketball T-shirt, says he is considering social work if he isn’t drafted by a professional basketball team. Meeting with community mentors, he says, is a way to get up-close and personal with people who are making a difference.

“I see [Mr. Holder] on TV all the time, so to meet him was an honor,” he says. “Even though I know he has a lot of power, he acted just like one of us. He’s an example of…what you can do with hard work.”

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