February 18, 2021 | Jessica Lambert |
Toronto’s Gary Durrant is leading a global group of young men to success and helping them to become tomorrow’s history makers. Through mentorship he is encouraging strong work ethic, clean living, and a dedication to giving back that is creating change one amazing young man at a time. From a Toronto Artist to American NBA players, NBA-G League players, Professional Athletes overseas, and other young people Durrant is improving lives, and these young men are calling for more leaders like him.
“Gary helps young people be seen in their best light, and to see themselves in their best light. This is important. To improve our community, we must have leaders teaching younger people how to let their gifts shine,” says Mamadi Diakite, Forward for NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks.
Using Sports, Arts, & Education as a Tool to Connect Young People to Success
Gary Durrant has a legacy of connecting with young people and inspiring excellence. As a Motivational Speaker, professional Educator, and former Owner/Director of a basketball camp, Gary understands how to mentor and support young adults, and facilitate opportunities for their success.
“I have known Gary since I was little” says Canadian Illustrator Tredel Lambert, aka Tredel the Comic God. “My mom was a single parent, and over the years Gary offered me scholarships to attend his camp” Tredel reflects.
“For me, basketball was about having fun and getting to hang out with a really cool guy who wanted the best for me. Gary saw my art skills and was always encouraging. I remember the life-lessons he would teach me. I carried those lessons into my profession and have seen the benefits of his leadership in my life. Now, I am starting to get recognition as an Artist, and Gary continues to encourage my success.” Tredel is the creator behind the Durrant, Super Mentor (DSM) illustration, paying tribute to Gary and his legacy of mentoring young Black men globally.
Creating Positive Patterns
“When I learned about the impact Gary has had on Toronto basketball, that he played college ball, played professionally, managed a league, and is an Agent; I thought, this is someone who knows the business backwards and forwards. Now, working with him, it is even more clear that Gary understands how to get the best for his clients” says Troy Coupain, who plays professionally in Germany and the EuroCup. “You want to work with someone you can trust. I kept meeting people with similar stories about Gary and his positive impact on their lives. I knew that Gary was the person I wanted in my corner.”
Young Leaders, Big Accomplishments, and Even Bigger Dreams
Wenyen Gabriel, NBA’s New Orleans Pelicans’ Power Forward and UNHCR (United Nations High Commission for Refugees) Ambassador, genuinely recounts meeting Gary and forming a life-long bond that has helped him grow. “When I met Gary, I was still in high school. We had mutual friends and similar interests. I liked that Gary was originally from Jamaica and immigrated to Canada, because I am originally from South Sudan and immigrated to America. Suddenly, I had a support system that understood my experiences” says Wenyen. “When it came time to choose an Agent that was going to have my back, Gary was the obvious choice. He played college ball, he understands the NBA, and he knows the difference between the two. He also was already a consistent mentor and friend. Gary was not an Agent when we met, he just cared about me as a person. I really appreciated that.”
In addition to appreciating Gary’s mentorship, Wenyen draws inspiration from his mother who has overcome obstacles to give her children a better life, and from his older brother who finished college and manages the largest winery in New Hampshire.
Wenyen has made it his personal mission to inspire other young people, “I work a lot on my mindset, and that has taken me far. Your mind is powerful. I encourage other young people to be aware of their thoughts and set their intentions. As a child, I knew basketball could get me to college. I never forgot that. I stayed focused. Now, I am focused on becoming even better at what I do. I want a long career with the NBA, and I am only just beginning – that fact excites me” says Wenyen. This young man represents a beautiful balance of investing in oneself today, while leadership planning for the future. “One of my dreams is to start an academy in South Sudan to help other young people. Sometimes the only difference between those who succeed and those who do not is access to opportunities. Gary and I have been able to accomplish a lot together. One of his greatest gifts has been opening doors for young people like me.”
Black Leadership Matters
Javin DeLaurier, of the NBA-G League’s Greensboro Swarm, is proud that his Agent is someone who can identify with him professionally and culturally. “I always wondered why there were not more Black agents. I wanted to be represented by someone as knowledgeable and connected as Gary, who could also teach me how to navigate the business world successfully as someone who looks like me. I wanted a representative that has lived my experience.” Javin and his mother are passionate about building up other young Black men. This is another reason Durrant Sports Management was an ideal fit for Javin. “When I met Gary, he spoke about how we could work together to give back to others. That was appealing because I want to leave a legacy” says Javin. Since then, Gary, Javin, and his mother have started planning the launch of a men’s mentorship group in Virginia.
Helping other young men achieve success is something Greensboro Swarm player, Xavier Sneed, is also passionate about. Xavier has been speaking at camps in St. Louis telling young people to keep their head up, stay focused, and they too can achieve their dreams. Xavier studies his own teachings, posting affirmations throughout his home to remind himself that excellence is something you re-commit to every day. “I want to make sure I am part of the solution. I want to help other Black people the way I have seen Gary and his team do” says Xavier. “Working with Gary has been amazing not only for basketball, but also for learning business skills. I watch the type of Agent Gary is, I have thought about becoming an Agent in the future, and if I do, I know that Gary is the type of Agent I would like to be.”
Reflecting on what Black History Month means, Hassani Gravett, who plays professionally in Macedonia, reminds us that we need all our leaders, old and new. “When I was in middle school, I always carried a picture of Martin Luther King on my binder. His call for us to ALL come together in a loving manner really inspired me. This past year, we were reminded again why that message is so important. Gary has been a great leader in my life too, because he is someone who not only opens professional doors for me, but who has really helped me become a better man, mature, and make better decisions.”
If we are to build tomorrow’s strong rich Black history – today, then we need to remember leaders like Martin Luther King. We also need to celebrate our hands-on, caring, committed leaders like Gary Durrant, and the amazing rising stars he works with.
“It all starts with raising your own bar on excellence” says Gary. “My team and I firmly believe that the more leaders we can create in our community, the better. I am very proud of all the young men I am working with, and mentoring. I see them really working hard to improve themselves, to establish their careers, and to give back. This is a living example of each one, teach one; and these young, inspiring men are building a history we can all be proud of.”
Jessica Lambert is the Co-CEO at Platinum Rouge.