In May, a Bay Area teacher wrote a letter to NBA MVP Steph Curry, praising Curry for being a role model, but asking him to please stay away from Mt. Eden High School in Hayward, Calif. The teacher, Matt Amaral, explained that many of his students dream of being professional athletes, while there are not enough adults telling them that they have a better chance of winning the lottery than of going pro – especially if they aren't working with private coaches and playing elite ball by the time they're in high school.
In an email to Yahoo Sports, a former Mt. Eden student responded. After attending Mt. Eden, Charlton Jimerson went on to graduate from the University of Miami, then played four seasons with the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners. This is his response:
Dear Matt Amaral and Steph Curry,
First off, I commend you Matt Amaral for being so passionate about the future of your students that you felt compelled to write Steph Curry. From reading your letter, I could infer that you have experienced a lot while teaching at Mount Eden High School, my alma mater. The most recognizable aspect of your letter was the fact that you have disassociated yourself from what it was like to be a student at Mount Eden. Your words come from a place of sympathy and not empathy, as if you've forgotten what it was like to be a Mount Eden Monarch.
One of the best traits of students who attend Mount Eden High School is a relentless sense of survival. As you mentioned, most of us do not come from a privileged background and therefore started life with the odds of succeeding in life already against us. But, when you are a Mount Eden Monarch, you possess survival skills that help you achieve higher heights in any career path. Maybe to someone like you, graduating high school is not a great accomplishment. Or maybe, making it home safe with the constant danger of getting killed for something as simple as a wrong look at somebody. Or maybe catching the bus and BART to a school that provides minimal educational resources is nothing to celebrate. But when you've experienced four years of attending Mount Eden High School, and received your diploma, you could care less about going to the NBA. Shooting 3's in a basketball game is far less of an accomplishment than graduating from high school after what many of these students are subjected to.
With that being said, as a teacher at Mount Eden, your position as a leader for current and future students troubles me. God forbid there is a talented student-athlete that has the fortitude and potential to make it to the next level, because you would tell him it's not possible. Just like the notorious Mout Eden basketball Ron Benevides told us when we were Northern California Sectional Champions in 1997. Oh, the many potential basketball stars that he held back from college because he hid their college letters. He was eventually fired due to his beliefs, and maybe your fate will be the same.
So Mr. Steph Curry, if you would be so kind as to carve out time in your busy schedule to visit Mount Eden High School, by all means, please do. But if you do, don't focus on talking about the NBA. But rather talk about going to college at Davidson. Even as the son of Dell Curry, you experienced some trials and tribulations I'm sure. Talk about the struggles you faced, the challenges you experienced, and the mindset of an undeniable winner. Basically, like the kids say these days, "keep it 100!" As someone who has attended Mount Eden, graduated and attended college at the University of Miami, Florida, I know it is possible. The fact that I played Major League Baseball adds icing to the cake—not the main dish.
In conclusion, everyone does not share the same sentiment as Mr. Amaral. There are people who believe in the student body at Mount Eden High School. We have a great history of performing arts. We have an awesome broadcast and communications program. There is no doubt in my mind that one of those students could be someone you hire in the future. But if you listen to Mr. Amaral, maybe these students will never think it's possible. Sadly, Mr. Amaral appears to be getting the attention he was seeking at the expense of the students.
I have a motto that I translate to the youth each and every time I have the opportunity: "If you're going to be your biggest critic, make sure you are also your biggest fan." It is for reasons like Mr. Amaral's letter that I had to learn this myself. Nobody—including your own teacher—will believe in you more than you. Therefore, take ownership of your self-esteem because you have everything it takes to be successful. Especially, if you are a Mount Eden Monarch.
Mount Eden Alumnus, University of Miami Alumnus, Major League Baseball Player, Author of "Against All Odds"