Wake Forest Retires Chris Paul's No. 3 Jersey
March 2, 2013
By Rob Daniels, WakeForestSports.com
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - You can hang your hat on the numbers and the memories. Sometimes, you hang a jersey on something more.
Such is the case with Wake Forest University and Chris Paul, who made sure his contributions to his alma mater and his community were only beginning when he headed to the NBA. In recognition of Paul's excellence on and off the court, Wake Forest feted No. 3 by retiring his jersey and placing it in the rafters of Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum in a ceremony at halftime of Saturday's game against Maryland.
A Local Legend
His pro career has been even better - two Olympic gold medals, six NBA All-Star citations and universal acclaim as one of the best floor leaders in the game. And that's all by the age of 27. It's safe to assume the list of accomplishments will grow in the years to come.
A Legacy Beyond Basketball
"It's very important for me to give back," he said Saturday morning. "People will say to me, 'It must be tough (to go home.) You have to do all these things.' I don't have to do anything. This is what I want to do."
In Winston-Salem, his charitable organization, the CP3 Foundation, annually provides 100 kids with a $100 holiday shopping spree at Toys R Us. Out in Los Angeles, where he is helping turn the Clippers into one of the NBA's most improved teams, he leads initiatives dedicated to youth fitness and productive after-school programming.
While a New Orleans Hornet, he was one of the most famous public faces of that city's post-Hurricane Katrina rebuilding efforts.
Wake Forest is home to perhaps his most personal touch, a gift to the University in memory of his beloved grandfather Nathaniel Jones, who was murdered during Paul's senior year of high school. Paul has created a memorial scholarship that enables two students - one in men's basketball, the other in the College of Arts and Sciences' general scholarship pool - to attend the University each year. The fund seeks to support graduates of West Forsyth High School, Paul's alma mater, in particular.
On Saturday, the man known on campus as "The Mayor" announced the fulfillment of his pledge to the Nathaniel Jones Student Scholarship. With the most recent gift, the grant is endowed in perpetuity, and he said his experiences as a scholarship recipient as well as those as a grandson helped inspire his grant. He specifically thanked Jimmy and Toni Dew and Alice Hall and her late husband, Claxton Hall, the donors of the fund that permitted his education.
"When I learned I had received a scholarship to Wake Forest, I was oblivious," he said at a sold-out breakfast that benefited his foundation on Saturday morning. "I thought that when you got a scholarship, all they did was just waive my fee. I thought they just let me in school and I just didn't have to pay for it. I didn't realize that there were hard-working families who had worked and who had actually paid for me to be able to go to Wake Forest, which, to me, is the best school there is. I'm grateful to the Dew family and to the Hall family."
He pointed out the symbolism of the placement in his remarks to the 14,173 in attendance, and it's fair to say the event met and exceeded his expectations and topped off a pretty eventful stretch. Only two weeks earlier ago, he earned All-Star Game MVP honors.
"This is it," he said. "This is right there at the top. It's one of the best days of my life in that it's timeless and something that no one can take away from you."
The Wake Forest community hasn't seen the last of CP3, who intends to complete his degree by attending summer sessions during upcoming NBA offseasons. He made the Dean's List in two of his first four semesters in the College of Arts and Sciences.
"Some people may go to a certain college, and they never go back," Paul said before the game. "Well, this is home. I'll always go back to Wake Forest, and Wake Forest will always be a part of me.
"College is where you are molded. Even though I didn't leave home geographically, I left home. For the first time, I wasn't under my parents' roof. I started to become a man. The two years I had here are still the best two years of my life."