July 31, 2017
By: Erica Rose
Thursday night was the closing dinner of the LEADership Education and Development program at the ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks. LEAD is a program run by Lehigh University’s College of Business and Economics for high school students. Now, I don’t know much about the program; however I can guess the highlight was having the chance to listen to, Lehigh alum and current Portland Trail Blazer, CJ McCollum speak. And what a message he delivered. Sure, we’ve heard it all before: “You can do anything you set your mind to.” But CJ took things a little farther. He told the crowd his story and let me tell you, his perseverance, determination, confidence, work ethic, and overall the person he is, is an inspiration in itself. I’ve had the opportunity to watch CJ grow into the person he is today, throughout his college career. Granted we were never “friends,” but every time I had the chance to interview him, he was professional, kind and level headed, and it’s nice to see that he is still the same CJ today.
Returning to the Bethlehem area, CJ told his story from being a 4-foot-8 eighth grade player to a 5-foot-2, 107-pound freshman. During his high school career he had a lot of people doubt him, including his teacher. Which by the way, aren’t teachers supposed to support us and encourage us? Granted playing in the NBA is slightly far fetched for most people, but if that is a student’s dream, support them please!
Well as CJ stated: “he won the battle” with his teacher. Not only is he in the NBA, he has worked (despite injuries) so hard that he is currently one of the best shooting guards in the league (in my opinion). But, I’m sure many others would agree. Off of the court, CJ continues to pursue his other passion; journalism, in which he got his degree. At just 25 years of age, CJ has already interviewed the NBA Commissioner, done work for ESPN, NBA TV, TNT, and co-hosted a weekly radio show on Sirius XM NBA Radio called “Year One.”
So, it’s safe to say things are certainly working out for CJ, and I wish him much more success in the future. So, just remember: “Anything is Possible.”
** CJ also does a lot of work in the community, and has opened the CJ MCCollum Dream Center at the Blazers Boys & Girls Clun in Portland.
*** CJ was the first ever player drafted from Lehigh, and only the second Patriot League Player in history to be selected in the NBA draft.