Ken Carter

by Vanessa from Lawndale

"If you get one percent better each day, within one hundred days you'll be one hundred percent better." ~ Coach Ken Carter

"What is your deepest fear?" A question frequently asked in the 2005 film "Coach Carter." The movie was based on coach Ken Carter's years of coaching at Richmond High School. Kenny Ray Carter was born in Fernwood, Mississippi in 1959 and later moved with his family to Richmond, California. He would go on to attend Richmond High. In 1997, Mr. Carter returned to Richmond High School to coach their basketball team. He was a strict coach who demanded more than average from his team. His philosophy, "If you get one percent better each day, within one hundred days you'll be one hundred percent better." Although he was a very firm coach, he made an impact on the lives of his players.

In 1999 Carter began to gain a lot of publicity due to canceled games and practices of his 13-0 team. The event, now known as "The Lockout," was due to the fact that fifteen of Carter's players had performed unacceptably poorly academically. Parents, students, and the media heavily criticized Carter, even though when he first took the coaching job, it was agreed that he would have full control of the basketball program. The players stood by their coach's decisions. Duane Harley, a sophomore, said, "It's not guaranteed that you're going to make it in the basketball business, but if you've got good grades, you've got something to fall back on." Carter was later praised for his determined emphasis on encouraging proper life priorities for his team.

Now Ken Carter is a business owner, education activist, motivational speaker, and entrepreneur, as well as a coach. He coaches sport teams such as his Slam Ball team which he led to their first Slam Ball Cup Victory in 2001/2002. Carter still resides in the Bay Area. His son, Damien, lives in Northern California.


Ken Carter has accomplished many things and has been given many honors during his life. He set all-time school records at Richmond High when he played basketball. Later he attended Contra Costa College, then went on to San Francisco State University and continued on to George Fox University. He received awards such as 2001 San Francisco Bay Area Entrepreneur of the Year, NAACP Impact Citizen of the Year, and the California Unsung Heroes Award. Mr. Carter was also 2002 Torchbearer for the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, and City Flight Magazine's one of the Ten Most Influential African Americans in the Bay Area. He was even awarded the Leadership Award from San Francisco's Mayor Willie Brown. Another thing that can be considered one of his accomplishments is the fact that half of his 1998-99 team players went on to college. This is an accomplishment for him and the young men considering the fact that "A kid in Richmond is 80 percent more likely to go to jail than to college." Coach Carter said this in an interview with the Seattle Times.

I chose Ken Carter as my hero because he accomplished many things, no matter how much he was criticized. He believed that academics came before extracurricular activities. Not only that, but he also reminds me a lot of my current coach. They both know that playing basketball is a privilege that is earned through hard work and heart. Mr. Carter and my coach help students achieve in multiple ways while learning important tools a person will need to succeed in life. These beliefs and actions are what inspire me to be better on and off the court.

Page created on 8/4/2010 1:44:04 PM

Last edited 1/6/2017 11:54:36 PM

The beliefs, viewpoints and opinions expressed in this hero submission on the website are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs, viewpoints and opinions of The MY HERO Project and its staff.

Related Links

Ken Carter - Official Website