Marines honor Charles Davis for contributions to community
By SSgt. Jason Fischer
| | December 04, 2003
6TH MARINE CORPS DISTRICT, PARRIS ISLAND, S.C. --
In the 1960's, a little boy living in public housing in Nashville made a promise to God - a promise that if he ever escaped his poverty-stricken way of life, he would return someday to give back to those who were less fortunate.
In the years that followed, that young boy honed his athletic skills, playing basketball at McGavock High School, then becoming a basketball star at Vanderbilt University. In 1982, following his rookie season in the National Basketball Association, Charles Davis fulfilled his promise by founding the Charles Davis Foundation. Through his 10 years in the NBA and since then through other ventures, Davis created a means of giving back to the youth of Nashville by helping them reach their full potential.
The Marines presented Davis with the second annual "Marine Corps Tennessee Leadership Award" to recognize him as an example in the community of someone who makes a positive difference. Marine Major Ted Studdard, commanding officer of Marine Corps Recruiting Station Nashville, presented Davis with a plaque holding an engraved Marine Corps Non-Commissioned Officer Sword, while high schoolers Davis works with stood closely by.
According to Studdard, the award is presented annually to the Tennessean whose leadership in the community, professional achievements and personal standards embody the Corps' own core values of honor, courage and commitment. Tennessee Titans Head Coach Jeff Fisher was the inaugural recipient last year.
"Charles stands as an example of what can be achieved when one is selflessly dedicated to helping others reach their full potential," Studdard said.
For the last 21 years, Davis has touched thousands of inner city youth by giving them opportunities they previously did not have, through PEACE (Positive, Educational, Athletic, Cultural and Economic development). After school tutoring by public school educators, basketball camp and Camp PEACE academic program are the highlights of the programs Davis provides to local youth at his two learning centers in Nashville.
Davis has won countless awards since the inception of his foundation, but said it was truly an honor receiving such an award from the Marine Corps.
"I'm truly delighted," he said. "To be recognized by an organization with the respectability of the Marine Corps is overwhelming. I did not serve our country in the Marines, but I still feel like I can serve in some small way by giving back through my foundation."
Studdard said Davis is a shining example of what others can strive to be through charity and the giving of time and resources.
"The true essence of being a leader is what you give back," he said. "Charles is doing that every day."
During the ceremony, Davis was surrounded by players from McGavock High School's basketball team, partly to show them what can be achieved by giving one's self to a greater cause.
"I've been in the trenches for 21 years, trying to give these kids opportunities to grow and become productive men and women," Davis said. "This shows them that they can overcome their obstacles and be able to compete on any field."
Seeing a success story first-hand is sure to leave an impression on those students' minds, showing them they really can become whatever it is they imagine or see before them.