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Lemon's message is one of determination

November 04, 2002|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

Growing up, Meadowlark Lemon had a daily summer routine of getting out of bed as early as he could to head to the basketball courts.

By nightfall, Lemon and his friends were still playing, listening for the "swish" from the net to determine whether the ball had gone through because it was too dark to see.

Lemon, who went on to become a Harlem Globetrotters star, said Friday at a press conference at Four Points Sheraton that if youngsters across the country set visions they, too, can be successful.

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"If the kids worked as hard as I did growing up, they're too tired to get in trouble," Lemon said. "I ran hard every day. I worked to be the best ..."

Lemon said there are many children who grow up and never fulfill their dreams, but he hopes his message of determination will change things.

"Any good thing that you can imagine, you can accomplish," Lemon said.

Lemon, known as the Clown Prince of Basketball, will conduct two youth rallies at Valley Mall today and serve as the grand marshal of the 78th Alsatia Mummers' Parade tonight.

The youth rallies are at 11 a.m. and noon.

Lemon also delivered the keynote speech at the Hagerstown Junior Basketball League banquet Friday night. The league is in its 55th season.

The Wilmington, N.C., native has a show on the Trinity Broadcasting Network called "The Meadowlark Lemon Show" and operates a co-ed sports camp called Camp Meadowlark, among a number of community activities.

Lemon, an ordained minister, travels the world with Meadowlark Lemon Ministries Inc. giving inspirational talks at churches, prisons, youth groups, schools and inner city areas. He said he speaks 150 to 175 times a year.

His organization also helps youngsters get out of gangs, away from drugs and on to better lives through mentoring.

Lemon credits his coaches as being his mentors growing up, and he said the Hagerstown area has a lot of good coaches who also serve as mentors.

"We need athletics," Lemon said. "The more that you do here, the better your community is going to be. Kids will grow up ... they're going to bring something back for your community."

Ken Welch, president of the Hagerstown Junior Basketball League, said he's encouraging children and young adults to attend the youth rallies at the mall.

"It's just so inspirational to be able to listen to a guy like that," Welch said. "I guarantee you every one of you will walk away from here with something you will remember for the rest of your life."

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