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Kenny Doss inspires others

by Melinda Lantz | Jan 28, 2018

Posted Jan. 28 - I first met Kenny Doss walking across campus during the first week of classes two years ago. He and I were heading in the same direction, Kenny to find Professor Joe Messer in the Academic Center and me to find a cup of coffee at Sister’s.

“I came for basketball,” Kenny told me, “but I’m going to stay because of Messer.” Kenny had experienced an immediate sense of kinship with Joe when they first met and he was eager to reconnect.

Kenny’s story has garnered lots of attention and press, most recently in this NCAA story. He comes from a challenging neighborhood in Chicago and is committed to doing everything he can to lift up the kids growing up there. Basketball has been Kenny’s passion for years, but he doesn’t see the way up coming from get-rich glory in the NBA. Rather, he sees basketball as a bridge across the divides that literally separate kids on one block from those on another.

Kenny once explained to me that individual city blocks define communities and safe spaces for many of the kids in his neighborhood. His idea, come to life several years ago, was to create a summer basketball league that helped young people to connect with one another where rivalry was friendly and safe and competitors could become friends.

Manchester’s mission is to graduate persons of ability and conviction. Some of our students, like Kenny, arrive well on their way and serve as role models for their classmates. They also serve as inspirations for those, like me, who came before.