Former Los Angeles Laker Adrian Branch visited Armendariz Middle School and the Young Women’s STEAM Prep Thursday to encourage students to make positive life choices.
Coldwell, Crockett and Moreno elementary fifth graders joined their feeder campus to hear the former NBA guard and motivational speaker’s presentation. Before getting started, he let students try on his 1987 NBA championship ring.
“You’re not born a winner or a loser,” he told them. “You’re born a chooser.”
Branch spoke about how some of his former teammates made bad decisions with drugs when they were at the University of Maryland – mentioning in particular his late friend Len Bias, who died of a cocaine overdose.
“You have to be careful with who you hang around because you can become what you hang around,” he said. “If you hang around with champs, you will become a champ. If you hang around with nuts, you will be come a nut.”
Branch, who is now a basketball analyst with ESPN, spends much of his time making presentations across the country to students. He knows most won’t know him from his days as a Laker but hopes they get his message.
“Kids have a natural phony meter so before you can get in the game to encourage them,” he said. “I think this saying is still true: ‘They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.’”