2006 Reasons to Believe Alumni Honor Roll

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Role models who give us Reasons to Believe in the power of education

Earl Watson

Washington High School, 1997Earl Watson

A successful NBA player, Earl Watson has never forgotten his roots.

The 1997 graduate of Washington High School is probably as well-known by students at his alma mater for his generosity as he is for his basketball fame.

In the fall of 2005, Watson founded Project EARL: Encouraging All to Reach for Learning. The program provides financing to each of the Kansas City, Kansas School District's five high schools to cover the costs of taking the ACT exam, and preparatory workshops, for students in need.

His $25,000 donation is just one of many he has made to the district. He has also donated a computer lab to Washington High, televisions and more, giving back to the district that supported him throughout his young days. His actions give students reasons to believe in themselves.

In high school, Watson had dreams of playing basketball at UCLA. His counselor, Ruth Ann Goheen Booth, encouraged him to focus on his academics and improve his grades. Mostly, she simply believed in him and guided him in the right direction.

His 129 starts at UCLA are a school record and he is tied for second on the career games played list. He graduated from UCLA in 2001 with a degree in history.

Watson was drafted by the Seattle Supersonics out of UCLA and went on to sign as a free agent with the Memphis Grizzlies in 2002. In 2005, Watson signed his second NBA contract with the Denver Nuggets. In February 2006, he returned to the Supersonics.

He said he feels blessed to be playing the game he loves and he wants to encourage all students to never give up on their dreams.

Watson frequently visits his hometown and his alma mater, and wants to continue creating programs that will help students thrive. He has several projects in the works through his e-Magine Foundation, including a crime prevention program for youth and a program to provide social events for the elderly. He also sponsors the KC Blue traveling basketball teams.

"Successful people are just like everyone else," he said. "We have all failed at times. What separates us from people who don't achieve their goals is that we keep trying. Failure is a part of succeeding."