26 Seconds on the Clock: He Shoots, He Scores!
TEvery 26 seconds in the US, a child drops out of high school. That’s 1.3 million kids each year. The graduation rate among students of color is as much as twenty-five percentage points below their white peers.
To Tim Shelton, a candlelight dinner means deprivation rather than romance. It means past-due electric bills and pending eviction notices, grim memories of a strangely challenging childhood for the son of a basketball star.
“People would say, ‘Didn’t your dad play in the NBA? Don’t you have a bunch of money?’?” San Diego State’s senior forward recalled. “I didn’t know what to tell ’em.”
The matter is so sensitive, Shelton says, that he has not asked a lot of questions, yet the subject is not so delicate that he ducks it. But instead of dwelling on the faults of his father, Lonnie, who spent 10 seasons in the NBA and left a paper trail littered with divorce and child support filings, Tim Shelton tells his story for the lessons it imparts, for the lives it can impact, as his opportunity and responsibility to lead.
He is 22 years old, “but I feel older than I am.” He also acts that way.
In addition to his Aztecs basketball responsibilities and preparing a postgraduate presentation on cognitive function, Shelton spearheaded a fund drive for After-School All-Stars aimed at reducing the nation’s dropout rate. He wrote a poem and shot a video for that purpose and helped design a T-shirt that generated nearly $42,000 in sales in the first 26 days of its launch.
The campaign is built on a disturbing statistic: that an American student drops out of high school every 26 seconds. Shelton’s goal was to sell 1,000 T-shirts at the symbolic price of $26 in time for SDSU’s Feb. 15 home game against New Mexico.
“My parents divorced when I was like 1½,” Shelton said. “When they got divorced, me, my brother, Titus, and my mother moved to Sacramento. We were in a homeless shelter.
“When we had enough to get out of the shelter, things were still very hard, very challenging. We were on welfare, food stamps. We got evicted quite a few times. I remember quite a few candlelight nights.”
Shelton remembers meeting his father for the first time when he was about 8 years old. By the fifth grade, he says, he had joined a gang and was stealing things and selling them. He was on the fast track to felonies before he was finally steered straight.
“It takes a brave soul to share a story like that,” said Tyree Dillingham, executive director of After-School All-Stars. “I told him, ‘I want you to be prepared for this when your story goes public.’ For somebody to be able to make the decision to think past themselves and share the story so that other people will hopefully be touched and helped and find hope, that’s something we’re very proud to stand behind.” She first encountered Shelton last July, when he was recruited as a last-minute counselor at “Camp Us,” a program aimed at middle-school students. “I’m not bitter,” Shelton said. “I’ve always been told by my mom that you can make a difference; you can be a leader. I’d like to lead off the court too.’
More About This Charity
Most Influential College Student or College Organization
SDSU Basketball Star Tim Shelton
Our mission is to provide comprehensive after-school programs that keep children safe and help them succeed in school and in life.
- This College Organization raised $42,000 through this Achievement alone
- This College Organization raised $48,000 in the past year
- This College Organization helped 150 people
- This College Organization raised $42,000 by asking SDSU students to donate $26 each to a high school dropout prevention program