Emmanuel Wade, director of Emmanuel Wade Basketball Skills Training, has been named a 2018 Arkansas Community Service Award Honoree.

Wade grew up in a small town with big goals. A a young player from Marianna, Ark., he had his sights set on a basketball career, but playing for Lee High School didn’t provide him a lot of exposure. Wade turned to a summer basketball program in Little Rock to get discovered, and it worked. He signed with Ole Miss, earning a full scholarship to play ball.

After graduation, Wade returned to the Arkansas Delta and kept up his presence on the court. He would pull aside young players with potential, and started helping them develop their skills.

“I felt bad looking at kids who were talented, but hopeless because they weren’t going to go to college,” he said. 

Suddenly, he had discovered his purpose.  Wade began teaching kids how they could use the game of basketball to get and education.

“College degrees are $100,000,” he said. “If I can be able to give back, develop some players and they get that same experience (of a free education), that’s awesome for me.”

Sessions are often one-on-one, and Wade also conducts group sessions as well as offering camps. Wade works with players of all ages and backgrounds, and rarely turns away any child, said Loretta Wilburn, who nominated him for the Community Service Award.

“I just want to be a part of that support system, to be there for these youth, and hopefully guide them to do the same things I’m doing now,” he said. “My purpose is to develop these young players, to inspire them, and to encourage them to continuously go for what they want to do.”