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Above and Beyond: Slam dunk star inspires students

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The Dunk Champion of the World was in the Dog House Feb. 26  showing off his mad dunking skills to several hundred students. 

“I consider myself an artist and this is my canvas,” Kenny Dobbs said pointing at a basketball hoop as he talked to the students.

Middle school principal Dan Durglo, standing just over six feet tall, held a basketball above his head at just the right angle near the net. Dobbs, six feet three inches tall, ran halfway down the court and took a vertical leap over Durglo. In midair, he plucked the ball from Durglo’s hands and slammed it into the net. The scene was over in seconds and Durglo walked away unharmed. 

“LeBron James gave me the slam dunk championship trophy,” he said. “It took a lot of practice to get there. It was all I thought about. I’d dream of different dunks and I’d wake up and try it. I took my inspiration from old dunk competitors and added my own flavor. This is my dream come true after blood, sweat and tears in the gym.”

Dobbs jumped over several students and then a few teachers and finally the school’s resource officer, but it wasn’t all fun. The dunk inventor from Arizona and member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma started out with a serious motivational message. 

“I remember picking up beer cans at five years old and drinking,” he said. “At 11, I used drugs for the first time. I was getting kicked out of school and my home. I was running the streets getting high and selling drugs. At 17, I robbed a place to make some fast money.”

He was eventually caught.

“Sitting in jail, I was afraid,” he said. “They said ‘with your long hair and pretty face, they are going to love you in prison.’ I really looked at my life and thought ‘man what am I doing?’ I let friends, drugs and girls sidetrack me. I wanted to be a professional athlete.”

Problems with paperwork and witnesses’ testimony ended up saving him from a possible nine-year prison sentence.

“I got a second chance,” he said. “I had to pay a fine for the helicopter that chased me that night, but I didn’t have to go to prison. I changed my life. I got rid of the friends that didn’t encourage my dream, and I went back to school.”

As a senior, he only had three credits.

“I knew I had to get an education,” he said. “They told me to drop out and get a GED. I wanted more than that.”

He spent two years going to school and taking online classes.

“Even holding the (dunk champion) trophy can’t compare to when I showed my parents my high school diploma,” he said.

Dobbs went on to college and later became a youth advisor. He decided to combine his love of basketball with his desire to help kids follow their dreams.

“What you do now will shape your future,” he said to the kids.

Emanuelle LaChance, 16, introduced Dobbs during the assembly. 

“Living on the reservation, many of us have seen and been through a lot of hardship and that’s where he relates to us,” she said.

Julian Couture, 16, sat in the bleachers thinking as Dobbs told his story.

“I decided I need to get my life together,” he said. “I got into the same kind of stuff. I related to everything he said word for word. I was even thinking of dropping out. I need to get my high school diploma.”

Basketball, Couture said, is something he is passionate about. Joining the high school team next year is an option he is considering. 

“If he can change, I can,” he said. 

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