NBA great Bob McAdoo and I were classmates and good friends. I was his cheerleader when we both attended Gillespie Park Junior High School in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Bob and I entered the tenth grade when schools were mandated to desegregate. That means we were bused from our African American community to an all-white school in an all-white section of town. This change for us was not forced. It was a decision our parents, who were educators, chose to make for us. They simply thought that the opportunity to excel at that time was greater at Ben L. Smith Senior High, an integrated school. Within two years at Smith, Bob was playing saxophone in the marching band. I was voted “Miss ROTC Queen” and travelled with the band. My sister, Bennett College alumna Janice Raiford Shaw, was Bob’s biology teacher.
Our mothers were both colleagues and friends. My mom encouraged me to hang out with Bob because he was ambitious and very kind. During his senior year in high school, Bob led us to the North Carolina basketball semi-finals and then to the state track tournament where he set a new record for the high jump. He had the longest legs I had ever seen on a human. I often stayed after school to see him clear the high bar.
When I was making history in broadcast journalism, Bob was scoring championships in the NBA. Today, North Carolina considers Bob one of its favorite sons; and I’m honored to be considered a favorite daughter!