Paul Pierce, nicknamed The Truth, is the heart and soul of the NBA World Champion Boston Celtics. A model of perseverance, Pierce was cut from the varsity team his freshman and sophomore years but decided to work harder and keep trying to make the team. His hard work paid off as he not only made the team, he also participated in the 1995 McDonald’s All-American Game, the premier game for high school seniors in the nation.
After High School, Paul attended the University of Kansas where he majored in Crime and Delinquency Studies. Playing for Hall of Fame coach Roy Williams, Pierce averaged 16.4 points and 6.3 rebounds per game in his three seasons at the University of Kansas, and earned MVP honors in the Big 12 Conference Tournament in both 1997 and 1998 and earned first team All-America honors in his junior year at Kansas.
The Boston Celtics selected Paul with the 10th overall pick in the 1998 NBA Draft, where he has played his entire professional career and has been the captain. Pierce has averaged 22.9 points per game over his 11-year NBA career and is a 7-time NBA All-Star. In 2008 he led the Celtics to their 17th NBA Championship title and was named MVP.
As impressive as Paul as been on the court, his off the court accomplishments are even more remarkable. In 2002 Paul founded The Truth Fund as a means to streamline his charitable efforts and connect with disadvantaged children in the Greater Boston area and his hometown of Inglewood, CA. The organization’s mission is to provide educational and life-enriching opportunities for disadvantaged youth. The vision of the Fund is to ensure that opportunities are available for young people to recognize their dreams through mentoring programs, technology and other educational needs as well as to foster stable and safe environments for children. Most recently, Paul announced the formation of his newest program through the Foundation, which is called THE TRUTH ON HEALTH. This initiative aims to empower and encourage young people to lead healthier lives in an effort to prevent obesity.
Jerry Stackhouse is a 13 year NBA veteran who currently plays for the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks. Born in North Carolina in 1974, the youngest of 11 children, Stackhouse was a premier player from the time he was a sophomore in high school. He was the state player of the year for North Carolina in 1991-1992, leading Kinston (N.C) High School to the state finals. His senior year, he played for Oak Hill Academy leading them to an undefeated season. He was a two-time first team Parade All-America selection, and was the named Most Valuable Player of the McDonald’s High School All-America Game.
Stackhouse attended the University of North Carolina, where he played for legendary coach Dean Smith and where he led the team to the ACC title his freshman year. After being named the 1994 NCAA Player of the year, Stackhouse declared his eligibility for the 1995 NBA Draft where was selected as the third pick of the draft by the Philadelphia 76ers.
Unlike many professional athletes who have left school early, Jerry spent his off seasons working towards his degree. On December 18, 1999 Jerry made a special trip to UNC to receive his bachelor’s degree in African American Studies. He was so eager to graduate from UNC that he piled on eight hours of course work in the month before NBA training camp to finish up.
Off the court, Jerry founded the Triple Threat Foundation (TTF) in 2002 after witnessing the horrible effects of Diabetes firsthand. Two of his sisters lost the battle to Diabetes and his parents are both currently living with the disease. The Foundation’s goals are to increase funding for Diabetes-related research, patient care, and prevention; promote the importance of daily physical activity and maintaining a proper diet; and encourage behavioral changes that lesson the risk of Diabetes and other serious medical conditions caused by obesity. Looking to expand his work on the obesity epidemic, Jerry has joined the board of nPLAY.
Shannon Miller remains The Most Decorated American Gymnast, male or female, in history. She is the only American to rank among the Top 10 All-Time gymnasts and is the only female athlete to be inducted into the US Olympics Hall of Fame – Twice! (Individual (2006) and Team (2008))
Shannon has won an astounding 59 International and 49 National competition medals. Over half of these have been gold. She is the only US gymnast to win 2 World All-Around Titles. Her tally of five medals (2 silver, 3 bronze) at the 1992 Olympics was the most medals won by a US athlete. At the ’96 Games, she led the “Magnificent Seven” to the US Women’s first ever Team Gold and for the first time for any American gymnast, she captured Gold on the Balance Beam.
She holds a BBA in Marketing and Entrepreneurship from the University of Houston and her law degree from Boston College. Shannon remains a passionate advocate for health and wellness for all ages including taking proactive measures to ensure a healthy and balanced lifestyle. She began the Shannon Miller Foundation which is dedicated to fighting childhood obesity and was appointed Co-Chair of the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and the board of the Florida Sports Foundation by Florida Governor Charlie Crist.
In addition to her broadcasting and spokesperson duties, hosting her own television show and writing a series of fitness books, cookbooks and filming prenatal and postnatal fitness DVD’s; Shannon continues to be a sought after professional speaker.
Through her personal stories of trial and triumph Shannon shares with her audience the idea of “balance” in our efforts to be successful and live a healthy and fit lifestyle. Shannon and her husband recently welcomed their first child on October 28th, 2009.
At the age of twenty-three, three-time U.S. Champion Johnny Weir is one of the superstars of figure skating. Fans all over the world love his fluid, elegant style. Johnny is a 2006 Olympian, and is in training for the 2010 OlympictGames in Vancouver. Johnny didn’t start skating until age 12. Johnny’s first venture onto the ice occurred one harsh winter when the corn field behind his house froze over. Johnny was thrilled to receive a second-hand pair of skates for Christmas, and to his parents’ amusement, he used them to skate in between the frozen corn stalks! That convinced them to let him take group lessons at the University of Delaware. Four years later, Johnny won the World Junior Championships. In addition to skating, Johnny is very interested in fashion, designing all of his own costumes, and was the recent focus of a well-received documentary entitled “POP STAR ON ICE.”
In the surf world, the man with the most scars wins. Scars for a surfer are equivalent to decorations for a soldier — visible proof that he’s been through the trenches and is still around to tell about it. And if scars do indeed signify a surfer’s rank, Carlsbad’s Taylor Knox — one of the last ’90s stars to compete more than 15 years on the World Championship Tour — would be a five-star general. One look at his sinewy, sunburned frame — and the deep, discolored indentations that line his face and back — and it’s clear that his road to success has been full of potholes, speed bumps and blind curves.
But Knox never expected a free ride. As an 8-year-old living in Oxnard, California, the age he decided to become a pro surfer, he realized he couldn’t rely on his God-given talent to take him to the big leagues. Instead, he took the blue-collar approach — hard work, determination and an incessant desire to improve.
As a teen, Knox didn’t exactly light up the amateur ranks. No one would have picked him as a peer leader, especially when he received the news at age 15 that he would have to undergo immediate back surgery. A damaged lumbar vertebra from an old skateboard accident threatened to paralyze him if he didn’t attend to it soon, and doctors told him the surgery might prevent him from surfing again.
After six long months in a cocoon-like body cast, Knox proved to the doctors that he would surf again, and that he’d surf the way he’d been visualizing from the discomfort of his couch for the past half-year.
Within months of his first day back in the water, Knox rocketed past the middle of the pack to the top of the ranks in the NSSA Open Season. He became a star member of the NSSA National Team, benefited from expert advice from former California pros David Barr and Witt Rowlett and went on to compete for the United States in the 1990 World Amateur Championships in Japan, finishing fourth — his highly touted teammate, Kelly Slater, finished fifth.
In the early ’90s, with a little help from his friend Taylor Steele, maker of a progressive surf video titled Momentum, Knox became known as a key player in a group of fins-free heavy-hitters known as the New School. Along with Slater, Rob Machado, Shane Dorian, Shane Beschen and Ross Williams, Knox was being played up as the official replacement for the ’80s dinosaurs.
Knox had his competitive coming-out party at the 1992 Hard Rock World Cup at Sunset, when he won six heats in a row, took out Sunset notables such as Gary Elkerton, Sunny Garcia, Tony Moniz and Vetea David and secured a spot on the 1993 World Championship Tour.
Knox’s rise was steady from his rookie year on. He didn’t win many events, but he gained the reputation as a surfer’s surfer — one of the only New School pros who truly buried a rail. His competitive success hit its first crescendo in 1995 and 1996 when he finished fifth and sixth in the world. Then, after a 1999 hiatus, he returned to the tour reinvigorated, reaching fourth in 2001 before see-sawing between the mid-twenties and top 10 through 2009 where, he finished a respectable 12th.
Along the way, he also strengthened his starpower in other ways. In February 1998, Knox charged into the spotlight by winning the inaugural K2 Big-Wave Challenge, an event that offered $50,000 to the surfer who caught the biggest wave of the winter and had photographic evidence. Knox unknowingly plunged into the winning wave — a 52-foot behemoth at Todos Santos — during the Reef Big-Wave World Championships. The drop made the tour workhorse an international hero overnight. “I got more publicity for that one wave than Kelly Slater did for any of his world titles,” he later said.
Most recently, Knox’s scarred visage has become the face of surfing fitness. Releasing a DVD in 2009 called “Surf Exercises,” he credits its core-strengthening methods and increased flexibility for boosting his surfing performances and lengthening his career. Must do some good. When he returns to competition in 2010, Knox won’t just be the last New Schooler standing besides Slater — he will be the oldest surfer on tour. (Though you’d never tell by looking at him.)
Byrdie Bell is a young actress/model/philanthropist with a wide array of interests and talents. Born in Chicago, Ill, the daughter of an advertising executive/author and a jewelry designer, Byrdie grew up between Chicago, London and Connecticut. After receiving an IB diploma in Philosophy and Theatre Arts at the United Nations International School she continued studying philosophy at the New School and graduated from the Stella Adler Studio of Acting conservatory program.
An actress and a model represented by Ford Modeling since the age of 18, Byrdie appeared in the Scorsese directed Rolling Stones film, “Shine a Light” and appears in an upcoming feature film called, “Homecoming”. As a model she has appeared in Vogue Magazine and has done campaigns for Meredith Kahn, Tibi, Gryphon, and Alice & Olivia. She also works as a contributing editor for the fashion magazine Q and as a consultant for the fashion brand “Theory”.
Byrdie has gracefully entered the New York philanthropic in the past several years in her own distinct way by working with a diversified group of charities including Charity Water, Fountain House and the Frick Museum..