Sunday, November 30, 2014

Daley Helps Bedford Thrive Off The Court

For Richard Daley, the road to success has been paved by both basketball and an insatiable thirst for structure and greater life opportunity.

Now at the helm of California's largest land management company, which has thrived through an assortment of advanced technology, Daley's path began with a simple basketball scholarship.

Now the Director of Records and Information Management at Tejun Real Estate, which has moved into the commercial real estate landscape, Daley witnessed a roadblock from basketball eventually create a world of opportunity and financial security beyond anything he could have ever envisioned.

His life journey is a reminder of how critical it is to prepare for life's challenges when the basketball finally deflates.

Following a well-traveled collegiate career and a brief professional stint in Italy, Daley's service in the U.S. Marines helped ingrain a brand of discipline and character that's hard to replicate.

All of this would never have been possible, however, if basketball hadn't provided a pathway from Brooklyn's hardscrabble and unforgiving streets.

Growing up in the crime-infested 1980s era, Daley saw the city morph into a drug-addled cesspool.

Crack was at its apex and bullets were sprayed all across the five boroughs. Daley was quick to decide he did not want to be a product of this harsh environment, cognizant that this lifestyle was not for him.

 Basketball proved to be Daley's lone escape.

While Daley's company proudly shells out a minimum of $25,000 a year to Bedford Academy in Brooklyn, he's happy to say basketball really has nothing to do with it. The point Daley illustrates is simple: The power is in the pencils.

Stressing the importance of high-caliber academics and helping acclimatize the students to advanced technology has been the focus. He knows picking up an IPAD now and understanding complex technology will help prepare these students for the demands of the business world.

Plunking down enough cash to build a technology room in the prestigious school has helped expand the learning, simulating real world situations they'll one day be faced with.

"The program is geared to keep them academically enriched," said Daley, who was bordered by top-flight NYC talent, including the late and legendary Conrad McCrae during his '80s heyday.

"I really felt like it was an obligation to help the kids get these opportunities."

Beyond helping spread the technology seed and keeping the school's high-order commitment to academics intact, Daley hopes to see more and more student-athletes groomed the right way.

 He's witnessed too many deplorable cases of student-athletes slipping by the cracks, wallowing under a lack of structure. He wants the emphasis on athletes' futures to mirror the "student-athlete" standard, ensuring that more and more of the city's talent are prepared for life's unique challenges beyond basketball. He preaches being multi-faceted and developing a skill-set in various fields.

Though he's an advocate for student-athletes who want to pursue the professional basketball route, Daley has a few words of warning.

"Even if you do make it to the NBA, your career will be over by the time your 36 or 37," he explained.

When perusing city programs that he wanted to help out, Bedford Academy's high-standards and head coach Rob Phelps' disciplinarian, no non-sense style had special appeal to him. During the time when the partnership started, Phelps' players had an average GPA of 89.

The standards have only heightened. Phelps demands each player maintain at the very least an 82 average. Not just for the season, but throughout the course of the academic year.

Phelps has always keyed on keeping peripheral distractions such as social media and outer cliques away during the season. He also empowers his students to avoid the paths of a follower. Former teammates and lifelong friends of Phelps recall the head coach never even taking a sip of an alcoholic beverage. It' a portent the Nazareth star never felt the need to blend in. Thus, he preaches from his own experiences and life values.

While Daley prepares these students for the rigors of the real world with a relentlessness and passion, he does renew his basketball jones come winter.

Bedford is rife with NCAA-bound players, including a pair of Ivy League recruits in his starting lineup. The theme of suffocating chest-to-chest defensive pressure has again resurfaced. Led by a hyper-athletic, high-rising junior guard in Anthony Munson, Bedford's defensive relentlessness helps spark an open court game. Bedford, 2-0, also features a sharpshooter in Ivy League target Ian Roach.

Like Phelps, Daley played at Nazareth High in Brooklyn.

He shoulders the same commitment to shaping the kids not just better basketball players and students, but ultimately more responsible and caring young adults.

The ties between Daley and the school district is emblematic of this tight-knit, small-school environment that works to circumvent the problems that routinely surface at public high schools throughout the city.

Daley helped Bedford launch the Pathfinder Tournament, an event that brings awareness to the student-athlete concept that's been drummed into Bedford's brain.

"The Pathfinder tournament was created to promote the student-athlete and promote the real world situation, where you have to do multiple things at one point in your life," Daley explained.

"Achieving success in both the student and athlete is why Pathfinder will continue to promote for young adults. We believe it will encourage greater success in life and dare to be different despite the odds and non-believers around you."