Victims' Rights Caucus

Speeches

NBA GREAT ELVIN HAYES

Nov 13 2007

 

Madam Speaker, today I am proud to recognize NBA great Elvin Hayes. The basketball star known as the Big E, from Rayville, Louisiana, was one of the most talented power forwards to play the game. His notorious turnaround jump shot, aggressive defense, and outspoken demeanor were legendary and earned him a place in the NBA record books.

He first picked up a basketball in the eighth grade when a teacher put him on the school basketball team. Although he initially showed no proclivity for sports, he was determined to improve. He spent his summers practicing and developing his skills. By the time he attended Eula Britton High School in Rayville; he averaged 35 points per game and led his team to 54 straight wins.

Basketball became an opportunity for a better life for Hayes. He was recruited by more than 100 colleges, and chose the University of Houston, where he became one of the first African-American athletes. In college, he debuted on the national basketball scene and was able to hone his game, and establish a style that would eventually make him a feared NBA player.

Hayes became a three-time All-American, leading the Houston Cougars to an 81-12 record and two Final Four appearances. Basketball fans across the country watched this nationally televised college game as he and his University of Houston teammates defeated UCLA and Lew Alcindor, later known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, in the game of the century at the Astrodome. I was one of the 50,000 plus fans at the Astrodome watching the University of Houston defeat the #1 ranked and undefeated UCLA Bruins. In his college career, Hayes scored 2,884 points, 31 points per game, 1,602 rebounds, with 17 rebounds per game, and was named the 1968 college player of the year. Before retiring in 1984, he returned to the Houston Rockets for three seasons. Hayes' NBA accomplishments include leading the league in scoring in '69; All-NBA first team in '75, '77 & '79; All-NBA Defensive Team in '74 & '75; and twelve-time NBA All-Star from '69-80. He scored 27,313 points, averaging 21 points per game in 1,303 professional games; he grabbed 16,279 rebounds; played more minutes than any player in history; and ranked third all-time in games played and blocked shots. In 1990, he was inducted to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, and in 1996, he was named to the NBA 50th Anniversary All-Time Team, and was chosen as one of professional basketball's top five players during the NBA'S 50th anniversary celebration.

When I served on the bench as a Judge in Texas, I recruited Elvin Hayes to coach a team of probationers in a basketball match against a team from the Houston police department. He agreed to coach this goodwill game although the police department team won.

Life has definitely gone on after basketball for the BIG E. After his all-star college and NBA career, Hayes returned to the University of Houston to complete his college education, and became a successful businessman. Today, at age 60, he has set his sights on yet another challenge, one that fulfills a childhood dream. On October 16, he completed a nine-month peace officer training program and joined the Liberty County Texas Sheriff's Department as a reserve deputy sheriff. He admits that years ago, when he sat on one of my grand juries, the law enforcement seed was watered.

Legendary coach Al McGuire taught Hayes that a successful person is one who can do something great, go on to something else, and be successful in the next field too. That philosophy was branded in the Big E's mind. All of his college, NBA, and business accomplishments shaped and changed his life. Basketball taught him discipline, teamwork, and hard work, making him one of the NBA's 50 greatest basketball players. He took the lessons learned on the court to the business world when he opened a car dealership. From the business world, he learned a very important formula; integrity, commitment and a caring he