Leroy Loggins inspired to guide a generation
LEROY Loggins grew up in a world of crime and poverty, but it was his iron will to make something out of his life that saw him go on to become one of the greatest players Australia has seen.
The 56-year-old scored 13,106 points in a stellar career in the NBL from 1981 to 2001, and was a three-time MVP.
But he said being inducted into the Cherry Hill Hall of Fame, the tight-knit community where he grew up in America, ranks right up there with his best achievements on the court.
Loggins said he saw things while growing up in the mainly low-income housing development community that will stay with him forever.
"A lot of things stand out, from seeing a guy get stabbed to death. There are a lot of things that I've seen, and they still weigh heavily on my mind," he told APN at his induction ceremony in Baltimore.
"It wasn't easy - I participated in a lot of things I'm not proud of, but I finally got it right.
"I started making some smart decisions and my life changed."
At the tender age of 11, Loggins (pictured) found basketball and that was the catalyst which changed his life forever, going on to become a legend at the Brisbane Bullets.
But it was the humble start which he said drove him to such great heights.
"We didn't have much at home, so I spent a lot of time active in the community," he said.
"I played basketball, baseball and football (gridiron). You'd sign the dotted line and you'd be happy to get a free lunch."
Those memories are driving Loggins with his new mission - to connect the disadvantaged youth of Cherry Hill to the disadvantaged kids he works with in Brisbane, through his Leroy Loggins Foundation.
He said he would never forget what the elders of Cherry Hill did for him, and he is now trying to do the same for kids who have similarly tough upbringings in the Queensland capital.
"I used to be one of those kids that hung out and did everything under the sun, but basketball saved my life," he said.
"We'd go to the recreational and community centres, and community role models would keep us off the street."
From shooting pool at the local community hall, to becoming arguably Australia's greatest basketball import, Loggins made it by dreaming big. And after his emotional induction into the Cherry Hill Hall of Fame, Loggins said he wanted to inspire others to follow their own dreams.
"I just want to make the people of Cherry Hill proud, and let them know that anything is possible," he said.