Madam Speaker, today I am proud to recognize NBA great Elvin Hayes. The basketball star known as the Big E, from Rayville, Louisiana, was one of the most talented power forwards to play the game. His notorious turnaround jump shot, aggressive defense, and outspoken demeanor were legendary and earned him a place in the NBA record books.
He first picked up a basketball in the eighth grade when a teacher put him on the school basketball team. Although he initially showed no proclivity for sports, he was determined to improve. He spent his summers practicing and developing his skills. By the time he attended Eula Britton High School in Rayville; he averaged 35 points per game and led his team to 54 straight wins.
Basketball became an opportunity for a better life for Hayes. He was recruited by more than 100 colleges, and chose the University of Houston, where he became one of the first African-American athletes. In college, he debuted on the national basketball scene and was able to hone his game, and establish a style that would eventually make him a feared NBA player.
Hayes became a three-time All-American, leading the Houston Cougars to an 81-12 record and two Final Four appearances. Basketball fans across the country watched this nationally televised college game as he and his University of Houston teammates defeated UCLA and Lew Alcindor, later known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, in the game of the century at the Astrodome. I was one of the 50,000 plus fans at the Astrodome watching the University of Houston defeat the #1 ranked and undefeated UCLA Bruins. In his college career, Hayes scored 2,884 points, 31 points per game, 1,602 rebounds, with 17 rebounds per game, and was named the 1968 college player of the year. Before retiring in 1984, he returned to the Houston Rockets for three seasons. Hayes' NBA accomplishments include leading the league in scoring in '69; All-NBA first team in '75, '77 & '79; All-NBA Defensive Team in '74 & '75; and twelve-time NBA All-Star from '69-80. He scored 27,313 points, averaging 21 points per game in 1,303 professional games; he grabbed 16,279 rebounds; played more minutes than any player in history; and ranked third all-time in games played and blocked shots. In 1990, he was inducted to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, and in 1996, he was named to the NBA 50th Anniversary All-Time Team, and was chosen as one of professional basketball's top five players during the NBA'S 50th anniversary celebration.
When I served on the bench as a Judge in Texas, I recruited Elvin Hayes to coach a team of probationers in a basketball match against a team from the Houston police department. He agreed to coach this goodwill game although the police department team won.
Life has definitely gone on after basketball for the BIG E. After his all-star college and NBA career, Hayes returned to the University of Houston to complete his college education, and became a successful businessman. Today, at age 60, he has set his sights on yet another challenge, one that fulfills a childhood dream. On October 16, he completed a nine-month peace officer training program and joined the Liberty County Texas Sheriff's Department as a reserve deputy sheriff. He admits that years ago, when he sat on one of my grand juries, the law enforcement seed was watered.
Legendary coach Al McGuire taught Hayes that a successful person is one who can do something great, go on to something else, and be successful in the next field too. That philosophy was branded in the Big E's mind. All of his college, NBA, and business accomplishments shaped and changed his life. Basketball taught him discipline, teamwork, and hard work, making him one of the NBA's 50 greatest basketball players. He took the lessons learned on the court to the business world when he opened a car dealership. From the business world, he learned a very important formula; integrity, commitment and a caring heart. He now uses that formula in law enforcement, where he is once again part of a team, where each member compliments the abilities of fellow law enforcement officers.
Hayes will be patrolling Liberty County as a reserve deputy sheriff, for 20 hours each month. Like everything else in his life, he is very committed to it. Accomplishing his childhood dream of becoming a police officer is one of the most gratifying and rewarding feelings he has ever had, even topping an NBA championship! The training process was more challenging than he expected. He had to learn countless codes, laws, and cases. You see, Texas has the highest standards of law enforcement than any other state, requiring 809 class work and physical training hours. In basketball, you have physical challenges, but training to be a peace officer was mentally and physically challenging. The Big E is a goal setter, and his goal now is to become one of the top law enforcement officers.
His first few weeks as a reserve deputy sheriff have been very quiet so far, but Hayes would never call it routine, since routine traffic stops in law enforcement can be some of the most dangerous. His 69" frame usually helps deter people from making bad decisions, but he knows that some people will feel threatened by his height and want to prove themselves. Law enforcement officers prefer to use verbal means to communicate, instead of physical means, but Hayes has been trained and is prepared for whatever situations may unfold.
Hayes will deal with those who invite him into his life by breaking the law, but he will also work with kids to help them set and achieve positive goals, so they can be productive citizens. He is a law enforcer, but is definitely willing to be a mentor to today's youth. He will visit schools and talk to kids to counter the messages they hear in today's rap music.
He hopes to convey that those who desire a family unit can obtain one through positive means. Since there is a shortage of police officers, he encourages young people to consider a career in law enforcement, which allows individuals to focus on making their communities a positive place to live. There are more prisons being built in our country than schools; and Hayes would like to do his part to see that change, by keeping kids out of the criminal justice system.
Hayes encourages young people to be themselves. Don't try to be like someone else, don't try to emulate what you hear in rap music; don't try to do what you see basketball players doing. Pick a goal and each and everyday, do something to try to accomplish that goal. Hard work, dedication, and sacrifice are the formula for success!
The extremely popular basketball star, businessman, and reserve deputy sheriff believes that in life you should continuously look for challenges. The reserve deputy position is another way for him to set a positive example for young people. Not everyone can be a professional athlete, a rapper, or actor, but everyone can give back to the community.
I am proud to recognize my friend, Elvin Hayes for his accomplishments on and off of the basketball court. He is a role model for us all, and a shining example of hard work, determination, and service to the community.
That's just the way it is.