By Matthew Pearce
Born with bone disease in both knees and abandoned by his birth parents, Eric Bailey grew up in one of LA’s toughest neighborhoods, where crime and drugs were a way of life.
Refusing to let his condition hold him back, he worked hard to graduate and was drafted to play college basketball. After graduating from college, he played in Australia’s National Basketball League and now works as a motivational speaker.
Mr Bailey shared his inspiring story with the students of Carinity Education Rockhampton on Friday, September 10, at the unveiling of the school’s new multi-purpose sports ground.
âWhen I was growing up in south-central Los Angeles in ‘The Hood’ it was very difficult because of racial tensions, poverty, unemployment and desperation, but I found a way out. “, did he declare.
âI found a passion, I found something that I felt he could be good at and I wanted to give it 100 percent.
âThe students here at Carinity, even though they don’t have the same kinds of challenges and obstacles as I do, if they were to embrace those same principles, connect with something they’re passionate about and do whatever they want. they can to excel at this, they could be on the path to a successful career.
Mr Bailey said it was important for young people to understand that there were adults on their side.
âI had a teacher who believed in me and he did all he could to make me the best version of myself that I could be,â he said.
âThen he went looking for other teachers in the school who were excellent at English, math, science, spelling and put together a group of teachers who wanted to bring out the best of us.
âI grew up realizing that it’s not just your parents who care about you, there are other people in the school and in the community.
âIt’s important that students really understand that they have the best of both worlds at home and also at school. Support your teachers, realize that they are there for you, in good times and in bad times.
âYes you are going to fail, sometimes you are going to ruin everything, but at the end of the day you just have to keep going. “
Mr Bailey said he was impressed with the facilities at Carinity Education.
âI didn’t have a basketball court like this growing up,â he said.
âWhether they want to be professional or semi-professional or just want to play recreationally, there is no reason why students cannot come here to these fields to work on their game, their endurance. It’s just amazing.
Principal Lyn Harland said the multi-purpose court had been under construction for five years.
âThe pitch is a great asset to us and all of the students here love to use it,â she said.
The Queensland government has invested $ 505,000 in the project, which cost a total of $ 936,000.
âWe specifically sought out Eric for his dedication because a member of our staff saw him at a conference and the way he spoke today is just inspiring to see.
“It shows that if you dream big anything is possible and our children really need to hear that.”
Ms Harland said special assistance schools like Carinity Education Rockhampton were the fastest growing in Queensland.
“We have over 130 students enrolled, up from just 35 when we started in 2016.”
The school gives vulnerable young people a chance to learn through a unique approach comprising smaller classes, with youth workers providing
support in classrooms and vocational education opportunities such as tourism and hospitality.