The audience cheered at valectictorian Daniel Harris’ opening statement at the Lucy Craft Laney High School graduation Monday at James Brown Arena.
He likened excellence in academics to excellence on the basketball court: Perseverance is key.
“We were forced to become mentally strong because when our bodies were tired we had to convince ourselves to keep going,” he said.
That mentality led Harris and the rest of the Laney boys’ basketball team to win the AA state championship this year.
He challenged each student to find their niche and work to excel.
“Everyone who receives a diploma today has an equal opportunity to succeed,” he said.
The sports theme was not lost on Michelle Walker, who was there to watch her grandson Marquez Eubanks walk across the stage.
Sports creates a special bond between her and Eubanks, who played football for the Laney Wildcats all four years of high school.
“We’ve always shared a special bond. He’s into sports, I’m into sports, so we can talk shop,” she said. “If he makes a play on the field, he’d ask me, did you see that.”
When Eubanks goes off to college next year, she’ll be sad to see him go, but she’ll also be happy for him.
“He’s a very good kid,” she said.