Unseld says adults bear burden for youths' well-being

March 13, 1997


Staff Writer

Hall of Fame basketball player Wes Unseld Thursday delivered a witty, poignant speech to the Boys & Girls Club of Washington County that was often aimed more at the adults in the room.

Unseld, a former player and coach of the Washington Bullets who now serves as the team's general manager, urged adults to take responsibility for raising the next generation, even when the odds seem against them.

"You always hear that this is the `lost generation.' I'm going to ask you: Who lost them, and more importantly who's going to find them?" he said. "They will give their best and society will kick them in the teeth every time. We must teach them to give the best they can anyway."


Unseld also challenged the young people in the banquet room at the Four Points Hotel to take command of their lives. He told them that their tombstones will have a birth date, a death date and a dash in between.

People have no control over their births or deaths, so that dash must represent their lives, he said. Otherwise, life will pass them by and they will leave no mark, he said.

At other times, Unseld delighted the crowd with anecdotes about his playing career. While many athletes struggle against retirement, he said he knew the exact day when it was time to move on.

"I swung out of bed and my knees buckled and my belt wouldn't," he said.

When he was coach, he said he told his players of a pending drug test. He said he was worried when he saw one of his star players.

"I looked over and the guy was writing answers on his sleeve," he said.

The children gathered for the speech came away impressed - and with more than just the words.

"The food was great," said 14-year-old Michelle Williams.

Amanda Sykes, 11, said she liked Unseld's message.

"I liked how he talked about family and what the future might be like," she said. "I hope it will be a good future."

For 9-year-old Brandon McAllister, picking a favorite part was a snap: "The dessert," he said.

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