Coach George Raveling Is The Mentor You Wish You Had: Breaking Civil Rights Barriers, Staying Young & How The Hall of Famer Came To Possess MLK’s Most Famous Speech

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“The best feedback is what we don’t want to hear.”

George Raveling


One of the most respected and revered figures in sport, George Raveling is basketball — and so much more than basketball.

The current Director of International Basketball for Nike, he was the first African American basketball coach at Villanova, University of Maryland, Washington State and University of Iowa before closing out a storied career at USC.

He is an inductee into several halls of fame, including the College Basketball Hall of Fame and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

He is a civil rights activist, outspoken on a wide array of social issues at the intersection of race, education and athletics.

A world-class educator, he is a moulder of boys into men, and men into better men.

Bottom line? George Raveling is the mentor you wish you had.

But you can just call him Coach.

This week I sit down with a truly remarkable man. A 79-year old with the vibrancy and energy of a college student, I was immediately struck by George’s insatiable thirst for learning. His passion for ideas. And his devotion to people, human potential & personal development.

Coach has lived life. And he’s got stories to prove it. Inspirational stories about breaking racial barriers during the era of segregation. Instructive accounts of owning your destiny. And of course there’s the legendary saga of how a young George came to stand alongside Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington as Dr. King delivered his historic I Have A Dream speech.

August 28, 1963 -- George Raveling, lower right, as MLK delivers his famous "I Have A Dream" speech during the March on Washington

August 28, 1963 — George Raveling (lower right, foreground) just after Martin Luther King, Jr. (middle right) delivered his famous “I Have A Dream” speech during the March on Washington.

There’s so much more to this incredible story — and to George — but I’m not going to spoil it here. I’ll let Coach tell it in his own words.

This is a phenomenal conversation about breaking barriers. It’s about self-governance, self-belief and self-responsibility. It’s about literacy, civil rights and humanity.

And it’s about the importance of being a positive difference maker in the world.

An absolute gem of a human being, George is a national treasure. I loved every second of my time with him and something tells me you will too.

So take a knee and huddle up, because Coach has a message for you.

Peace + Plants,

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P.S. – As I only had 75 minutes with George, we barely scratched the surface on his life and wisdom. So please consider this episode a mere first installment in what I can foresee as a series of powerful exchanges. If you enjoyed this conversation, let me know what else you would like to hear from Coach by leaving your thoughts on reddit and perhaps I can cajole him to return for some pinpointed discussions on specific topics related to human potential, performance and personal development.

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Notable People Discussed

  • Ryan Holiday: American author, marketer, and entrepreneur
  • Eddie Gottlieb: the first coach and manager of NBA’s Philadelphia Warriors
  • Paul Arizin: NBA basketball player for the Philadelphia Warriors
  • Woody Sauldsberry: NBA basketball player for the Philadelphia Warriors
  • Wilt Chamberlain: NBA basketball player for the Warriors, 76ers & Lakers
  • Guy Rodgers: American professional basketball player
  • John Lewis: American politician and civil rights leader
  • James Baldwin: African American novelist, essayist, playwright, poet, and social critic
  • Mahalia Jackson: African American gospel singer, commonly referred to as “The Queen of Gospel”
  • Marian Anderson: American contralto and one of the most celebrated singers of the twentieth century
  • Stephen Curry: NBA basketball player for the Golden State Warriors

Coach Rav’s Book Recommendations

Thanks to Jason Camiolo for production, interstitial music and audio engineering; Chris Swan for production assistance & show notes; Shawn Patterson for graphics.

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