UK Happenings

‘Don’t Run Out Of Breath Before You Win’: Lewis Honors College Speaker Series Welcomes Derek Anderson

Derek Anderson at a UK basketball game in 2013. Mark Cornelison | UK Photo.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 2, 2022) — The University of Kentucky Lewis Honors College Speaker Series will welcome writer, producer, philanthropist, entrepreneur and NCAA and NBA champion, Derek L. Anderson Sr. to campus this month.

The talk will take place at 4 p.m., Thursday, March 24, in the Lewis Honors College Scholars Lounge, and is open to the UK community. Registration is required.

The purpose of the Lewis Honors College Speaker Series is to better prepare the Lewis Honors College students for the challenges and opportunities of life by covering topics including self-awareness, personal values, character development, leadership, critical thinking, decision-making, financial literacy, career planning, success and happiness; and to educate the Lewis Honors College students regarding the American values of individual liberty, free enterprise, personal responsibility, faith, family, patriotism, intellectual diversity, community engagement and civic responsibility.

Anderson, a native of Louisville, grew up in unimaginable circumstances. Abandoned by his parents at the age of 10, he sought shelter sleeping in empty apartment buildings, old school buses and even his high school gymnasium. He became a single parent at age 15, worked two jobs, but remained focused and graduated as class president with a 3.7 GPA. Anderson credits his ability to not only survive but to succeed in spite of the circumstances of his life to a mindset he adopted that winning was a choice he could make.

Anderson went on to earn a full basketball scholarship to The Ohio State University, and then transfer to the University of Kentucky, where he helped win an NCAA Championship in 1996. The next year, Anderson was drafted as the 13th pick in the 1997 NBA draft and became the first player signed to the Michael Jordan Brand, and was given his own signature shoe.

With his first check from the NBA, he started his own company, DA Enterprises, and then established The Derek Anderson Foundation in 1998. The foundation supplies resources for abused and battered women and children who are without guidance, and reintroduces young men into the workforce. In 2015, Anderson founded the Stamina Foundation. The mission of the Stamina Foundation is to empower youth and young adults with the resources and life skills they need to follow their dreams.

In 2006, Anderson won a World Title with the Miami Heat, earning himself a spot on the shortlist of players to win both NCAA and NBA championships. After an 11-year NBA career, he retired in 2008.  After retirement, he expanded his business and opened two hotels in Turks & Caicos, his own film studio, Loyalty Media Group, and began writing books and screenplays. In 2010, Anderson produced and directed the documentary "The Untouchables of Kentucky." In 2020, Anderson returned to UK to complete his degree in liberal studies.

After being estranged from his parents for more than 24 years, Anderson went to find them both. After finding his father, he lost him 10 months later to a battle with cancer. That same year, he found his mother, who was suffering from addiction. He assisted her in her recovery, and years later, they had their first Christmas dinner together in over 28 years. These life events inspired him to write his autobiography and screenplay entitled, “Stamina.”

Anderson travels the world sharing his life lessons and encouraging people to maintain hope and persistence through challenging moments in life. He hopes his story and his mindset will resonate with all students during his talk at the Lewis Honors College.

"I look forward to sharing my journey that has always been deeply rooted in persistence, dedication and having the courage to never give up; which is something I like to call Stamina,” Anderson said.  “My hope is that I leave the Lewis Honors students knowing that success is not gained by happenstance, but rather by consistent practice in excellence. As Will Durant once said, ‘…we are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.’”

For more information on the event, visit https://www.uky.edu/honors/anderson.

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.