A No. 45 jersey, signed by the current Portland Trail Blazer, was revealed in front of the crowd as Wallace and his family were on hand to celebrate.
“I want to thank god, my family and everyone who supported me over the years and helped me get to the place that I am,” Wallace announced to the crowd. “I want to thank the community and the city of Childersburg for always being behind me. I want you to know that every time I step out on the court, it’s for the Childersburg Tigers. Thank you.”
Chad Slaten, Wallace’s former basketball coach at Childersburg, addressed the crowd and Wallace at halftime.
“We are so honored and happy to have Gerald with us here tonight,” Slaten said. “Everybody knows what kind of player he is. Everybody knows what kind of person he is and what he’s done in the NBA and the things he’s done here in our city. He’s always played the game tremendously hard. This night is for you and everything you’ve done for our school.”
Slaten told Wallace while he is blessed with a lot of ability and talent, he advised him never to forget where he came from.
Wallace has appeared to take that advice to heart. He started the Gerald Wallace Foundation to help undeserved children and their families with an emphasis on recreational activities in Childersburg, Charlotte and Portland.
“I was raised by a single parent so going back and helping out this community giving kids an opportunity to do the things I wasn’t able to do,” Wallace said. “I want to show them that determination and hard work, no matter how small of a town you come from, always pays off in the end.”
Wallace donned the Childersburg varsity uniform from 1996-2000. He said he picked No. 45 because it was “the biggest jersey number they had.”
After graduating from Childersburg, Wallace played one season at the University of Alabama. He averaged 9.8 points and six rebounds per game for the Crimson Tide before declaring himself eligible for the 2001 NBA Draft.
He was drafted by Sacramento and played three seasons for the Kings before being drafted by the Bobcats in Charlotte’s expansion draft.
In 2010, he was named an NBA All-Star was selected to the All-Defensive First Team.
Wallace was traded to Portland in February, where he helped the Portland Trail Blazers earn a trip to the NBA Playoffs. The Trail Blazers lost to the eventual champion Dallas Mavericks in the first round.
Now that the lengthy NBA lockout appears to be coming to an end, Wallace said he’s happy to get back on the court.
“You always beg for a vacation but ours was a little too long,” he said. “This past season was one of the best seasons (the NBA) has ever had and we didn’t want to lose the fanbase. I thought it was important for us to try to get a deal done.”
In 10 seasons in the NBA, Wallace is averaging 13.4 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. He has made the postseason five times with all three teams, and has averaged 7.1 points and four rebounds per game.
Notable moments in his NBA career include a 42-point performance against the New York Knicks in 2007, collecting 20 rebounds in one game on two separate occasions.
Contact Wesley Sinor at email@example.com.