JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Oct. 13, 2010) - The ETSU Department of Intercollegiate Athletics hosted New Orleans Hornets owner George Shinn for a motivational speech to kick off the weekend's NBA festivities, inside the D.P. Culp Center's Martha Culp Auditorium on Wednesday night.
A nationally recognized "rags to riches" business leader, Mr. Shinn was the youngest person ever awarded the prestigious Horatio Alger Award, he also received an American Success Award from President Bush in a White House ceremony, and he holds six honorary degrees in humanities. His speech was entitled "You gotta believe!"
"Anytime student-athletes can hear someone of Mr. Shinn's magnitude speak, it really makes it special for them," said ETSU men's basketball head coach Murry Bartow. "I thought it was an excellent message about success and it was certainly very motivational for everyone in attendance."
Mr. Shinn's books YOU GOTTA BELIEVE! and The Miracle of Motivation were available for purchase at the event, and a book signing was held in the lobby immediately following his speech.
"I enjoyed how Mr. Shinn spoke about setting high goals," said ETSU men's golfer Paul O'Kane. "The speech was excellent in terms of life, school, and sports. Anyone, not just athletes could have gotten something good out of his speech tonight."
The special event was free to ETSU students, faculty, staff and the general public. Tickets are still available for the NBA preseason game between the New Orleans Hornets and the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday night. For tickets please call the ETSU Athletics Ticket Office at (423) 439-3878.
Growing up in the small North Carolina town of Kannapolis, George Shinn's dream of owning a professional sports team came true on April 1, 1987 when NBA Commissioner David Stern called Shinn to deliver the good news - he had been selected as the first to receive one of four expansion franchises and would begin play in Charlotte, N.C. in 1988.
After 14 seasons in Charlotte, the Hornets led the NBA in attendance for 8 years in a row. After the lockout and the NFL came to Charlotte, attendance slipped and Charlotte needed a new arena to succeed in which they did not get, so Shinn moved the Hornets to New Orleans in 2002.
Shinn's leadership and resolve once again came to the forefront when the Hornets were faced with perhaps the biggest challenge in franchise history. In the aftermath of the tragedy caused by Hurricane Katrina, he was able to work with the NBA to secure the team a temporary home in Oklahoma City for the 2005-06 season. Under his leadership, the Hornets turned a potentially devastating situation into one of sports' most uplifting success stories when they finished 11th in the league in attendance while playing in two cities. The 2006-07 season was again split between New Orleans and Oklahoma City, and Shinn's business and marketing acumen were key to successfully executing games, special events and charitable efforts in both markets. In the summer of 2007, Shinn brought the Hornets back to Louisiana full-time, focused on two goals; relocate his business successfully and help rebuild New Orleans.
As a champion of the causes of (charity) helping those in need and responsible corporate citizenship, Shinn takes great pride in supporting a variety of initiatives that leave a positive and lasting impact on the community.
In New Orleans he sits on the boards of the Boy Scouts of America and Loyola University and has made significant financial contributions to organizations such as the United Way, Children's Hospital, the Housing Authority of New Orleans, Bridge House and Grace House. And every year on his birthday, Shinn spends time at hospital maternity wards donating gifts to every mother who gives birth on May 11th. For these efforts, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin asked Shinn to serve as Grand Marshall of the city's Martin Luther King Jr. parade and then presented him with the Quiet Hero Award at a prayer breakfast that launched the city's MLK weekend activities.
His commitment to community service stems from very humble beginnings. As a young man Shinn worked in a textile mill, at a car wash, and even as a janitor in a school that he would eventually own. Lessons learned in those capacities would soon pay off when, at the age of 34, Shinn was the youngest person ever awarded the prestigious Horatio Alger Award, which recognizes "rags-to-riches" business leaders who achieve success while maintaining values in patriotism, faith and civic involvement. Inspired to share his success secrets with others, Shinn authored five books and is a highly sought-after public speaker, especially on topics related to sales and motivation.
For a lifetime of achievement in business and higher education, Shinn was one of twelve to receive an American Success Award from President Bush in a White House ceremony. He also holds six honorary degrees in humanities.
Shinn and his wife, Denise, were married in New Orleans on March 8, 2003. He has three children; Chris, Susan, and Chad, from a previous marriage.