Former NBA star mentors teens


Abbey Hutton

Averaging three to four points per game, running up and down the court, JV head coach and substitute teacher Ray Tolbert played for over 14 basketball teams in his professional career. Six of them were NBA teams, including the Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks. Tolbert also competed in Spain and Italy. He played on five teams for the now defunct Continental Basketball Association (CBA).

Tolbert grew up in Anderson, Indiana and started playing basketball in the fifth grade at the height of 5’11. By the time he was in seventh grade he started to dunk. He took his talent to Indiana University as a forward in 1977. Tolbert said that it was not easy to play for Bobby Knight, but it was fun winning the NCAA championships in 1981.

When college was over, he was selected as the eighteenth pick in the first round of the NBA draft by the New Jersey Nets. He really was not happy about this pick, but he still played his hardest.

After playing for over 14 basketball teams, he retired from the NBA with Atlanta Hawks in 1989. He continued playing overseas in Italy and Spain until 1991.

When he retired he joined the subtitute teaching community. He has been subbing for six years. Tolbert has been a part of the high school for only two years.

“[I started teaching] because there should be more positive male minority role models.” said Tolbert. “And I enjoy helping and

motivating young people through example.” Tolbert loved the game of basketball because it came with fame, fortune and friends, but he wanted to do more. He wanted to show kids how to lead a positive and successful life.

That is why he started to teach. Tolbert believed he needed to utilize

his talents and communication skills, by mentoring students with the Word of God. It is Tolbert’s hope that after spending time with students, they will see the important aspects of their own life. He just wants to inspire students to achieve more than what is just expected of them.

“He is a great role model,” said sophomore Emil Belmontes. “He shares a lot of knowledge to help me become better.”

His basketball players enjoy having a former pro basketball player help them improve and other students enjoy having him in class.

Tolbert developed the nickname Super Sub by which he is known around the school. He got his name because when kids are negatvie about having a substitute, he would always say “No, you have a Super Sub.”

Tolbert does not want kids to feel down, so he tries to help them be positive. Tolbert hopes that players can get help through struggles with the love for basketball and their team spirit.

“Too many kids are ending up in caskets rather than colleges,” said Tolbert. “That’s why I bring basketball experience to them. We can all relate to it and work through issues because ofit.”