Pro Basketball Player Donté Greene: When First-Class Character Meets Undeniable Athletic Talent

by Karl Nelson II, Intern Media 

He was one of the most prolific basketball players to come out of Baltimore. Among the many Division I options that were on the table for him, he chose to take his talents to Syracuse University where he averaged over 17 points and over 7 rebounds a game, setting a record for 3-pointers made (90).

Drafted by the NBA as a 2008 first-round pick, he kicked off his NBA career with a 40-point debut in the NBA’s Summer League in Las Vegas, before going on to spend the first four years of his professional career with the Sacramento Kings.

These are just some of the accolades for Donté Greene. Perhaps though, the most imposing thing about this young brother is exactly what the title to this story says; “first-class character” and “undeniable talent.”

It’s that combination that separates Greene from the pack.

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I’ve come across so many people who have had off-putting experiences with athletes, whether it was because of their character or something else. That’s why it’s important for us to highlight those athletes who exemplify great character, a heart for others, and who represent positivity.

That’s who Donté Greene is.

Greene has done an amazing job at taking the “highs with the lows,” as he would call it.

Perhaps though, the most imposing thing about this young brother is exactly what the title to this story says; “first-class character” and “undeniable talent.”

What are those highs and lows for Greene?

Well, his career hasn’t necessarily been a walk in the park. The Baltimore breaded professional ball player has dealt with his share of adversity, and believe it or not, it started on the night of the 2008 NBA Draft — a night where he was expected to be selected early in the first round. Instead, he was snagged as one of the last few picks in the first round.

Greene used that as motivation though, as he put on the most impressive showing in his Summer League debut, proving to his fellow athletes and to coaches that he belonged in an NBA uniform.

From there, his NBA journey began, but it wasn’t too long after that when Greene would face adversity again. This time though, it was a move from the NBA to the NBA Development League (D-League). This move came after he set on the bench for most of his rookie season.

While some players would have assessed the situation, viewing it as a major set back, Greene did just the opposite. He viewed it as an opportunity to help his organization and get better in the process so that when he did get an opportunity to move back up, he’d be ready.

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Greene put on a show during his brief stint in the D-League, and days later, he was back in a Sacramento Kings uniform. After that, he would experience the business aspect of basketball, as he was released from the team in 2013, ultimately bouncing around the league a bit before ending up overseas.

According to Greene, landing overseas was probably the hardest thing he’s had to deal with, but not only for the obvious reasons of being on the outside looking in as far as the NBA goes. The thing that hurt him the most about the transition was being away from his family, specifically his kids who mean the world to him.

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Well, another transition could be approaching for Greene if he continues to have success overseas. That’s a turning point that the Orangeman says he’s ready for, considering he hasn’t laced up his kicks for an NBA game since 2013.

Greene says he doesn’t take his position in life for granted though and that he’s had a lot of time to mature as a player and as a person, even though his children know him to be a “big kid,” always leaving a favorable lasting impression on those he comes in contact with.

Greene is the perfect role model for other young and older athletes out there today, as he exemplifies a love for the game of basketball and a level of character that keeps him involved in the community and grateful everyday for the opportunity he’s been given to provide for his children.

Checkout our exclusive interview below and CHOOSE TO BE INSPIRED.

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Q. Something that most people might not know about you. You were born in Germany, which I believe had a lot to do with your mother working for the National Security Agency (NSA), at the time. Tell me a little bit about that.

A. My mom worked for the NSA 13 years before she had me. Germany was great! I lived there until I was four years old and then came back for another year between the ages of 12 and 13. Living overseas helped me become more cultured. Living among different nationalities and lifestyles…I thought it was cool. Looking back on it, I’m glad it worked out the way that it did.

Q. You were selected in the first round of the 2008 NBA Draft. The one-and-done notion is something that’s received a lot of attention for years now, especially after years of seeing guys go to the league straight out of high school. What influenced your decision to leave Syracuse for the NBA after your freshman year? 

A. I went into Syracuse knowing it was a possibility for me to get drafted after one year. I just wanted to go to school, work as hard as I could and get better. After my freshman year, I knew I had a child on the way and a family to take care of. So, the decision was a no-brainer for me. My dream was within my reach, so I had to take it.

Q. You’re widely known by your fan-base for the five seasons you spent as a Sacramento King. A lot happened during that time, including a short stint in the D-League in 2009. Can you explain what those five years meant for your basketball career and what you learned about yourself during that time?

A. It was great for me. I love Sacramento as a city and the fans really took me in. Great family town that loves their basketball. The D-league helped me get my game back on track after sitting for half my rookie year. It was actually a lot of fun playing with guys who had been pros for a minute trying to get a look in the NBA. But for my career, it helped me see the business side of being a pro, learning the ends and outs of everything.

Q. You represented the USA twice (2006 and 2007) in the FIBA games. What was it like playing in the FIBA games?

A. It was a blessing. To be able to walk out there with that USA on your chest and represent your country was a great feeling. Also, the traveling part. We were in Serbia for about two weeks, having a blast sight seeing and experiencing a different culture. Playing against younger players, who I would see later in the NBA, was crazy! Definitely a trip to remember.

Q. You actually attended school in Japan when you were younger. Do you recall what that experience was like?

A. Japan was beautiful! When my mom told us we were moving there, I didn’t know what to think. Would I like the food? Are people going to speak English? Once I got there, I realized they knew more about the American culture than I did. My three years there was great though. I still have many friends from my early school days who I’m in contact with.

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Q. You won a gold medal in the 2006 FIBA games. How special was it to win a gold medal while you were still in high school? 

A. Very special!  Not everybody can say, “I won a gold medal for my country doing something I love.” It was a tremendous honor and something I will never forget.

Q. Donté, you went on a tear in your freshman year at Syracuse, averaging over 17 points per game and over 7 rebounds per game. You started in all 35 games and you also set a record for 3-pointers made (90). No wonder you were a first-round pick following that performance. How did it feel to add your name to the elite list of players to come through that program, specifically Carmelo Anthony who also grew up in Baltimore and played at your alma mater, Towson Catholic?

A. It was a dream come true. When I started to take basketball seriously at the age of 13, all I wanted was to get a scholarship at a big-time school and make it to the NBA. Now, to follow behind Melo was the icing on the cake. Even though I didn’t kill like he did, I got my name in the record books and I can always call myself an Orangemen.

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Q. You scored 40 points in your NBA Summer League debut. Explain your mindset going into that game, a game that set the tone for the start of your NBA career?

A. I had probably the biggest chip on my shoulder out of all NBA rookies. I was predicted to go mid-first round and slipped to the end of the first round. I wanted to go out and prove all those NBA teams wrong that looked over me. I wanted to show that I was here for a reason and that I belonged in the NBA. And that’s what I did, haha.

Q. You might have been sent to the D-League for a few games, but after some great performances you were brought right back up. Explain how you were able to succeed in the midst of that adversity.

A. When I got down there, I didn’t look at it as a punishment. I looked at it as a reward for me sitting on the bench knowing I could be out there helping my team. I went down to the D-League to have fun and get better. What made it easier was I was with a great group of guys who just wanted to play ball and win. We did just that.

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LAS VEGAS, NV – JULY 19: Donté Greene #13 of the Memphis Grizzlies looks on versus the Denver Nuggets during NBA Summer League on July 19, 2013 at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jack Arent/NBAE via Getty Images)

Q. In the last three years, you’ve bounced around a bit from the NBA to overseas play. What has that experience been like for you? How have you handled the ups and downs and remained positive through it all?

A. For me, I think it’s helped. I’m definitely more mature. I had some growing up to do and I believe I’m on the right path to step foot back in the NBA and be successful. You have to understand that life is full of ups and downs. You have to take the highs just as good as your lows. Only worry about what you can control and leave the rest to the big guy upstairs. Believe in yourself and anything is possible, as long as you put that work in.

Q. Where are you in your professional career today? Do you have plans to try to get back in the NBA, or are you focused on dominating the league you’re in now?

A. I want to get back in the NBA. I think it’s time for me to come back home and hoop…but just trying to prove myself all over again. Being in Dubai for two years kind of hurt me. I have to go out, put the work in and show what I can do.

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Q. You’ve always been a humble person and a guy with a lot of character, which is why I’m not surprised you’ve experienced success in your life. Speaking of which, you have children who are very near and dear to you.Talk about how having your kids has changed your perspective on what success means and on life in general?

A. My kids are my EVERYTHING!!! I do this for them. I always wanted to be the young cool dad, and to be fair I’m the biggest kid you might meet. When I’m on the court and I might need a little pick me up, I think about them to get some energy. When I’m overseas and missing them like crazy, I’ll tell myself it’s for them to have a better life. It’s not just about you when you have kids, and I’m blessed to have my little ones.

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Donté,

My man, thanks for taking this interview and for being so open about your journey thus far. It’s crazy to think that just years ago, we were in open gyms on the same court and walking the Towson Catholic hallways. I always respected your character and your talent of course. Made it easy to root for you to win in life bro and that’s exactly what you’re doing today. Continue to set an example for those around you as a great father, a guy active in the community, and as a pro athlete putting in the work on the court. Welcome to the Intern Media family. Your story has just been added to the Intern Media wall and we’re family bro, so you already know the support will continue. Be blessed fam. 

Karl Nelson II, Founding Editor of Intern Media 

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Brian Macon: Changing lives with a basketball in hand

by Karl Nelson II, Intern Media

In the game of basketball, a lot of the time, we’re only accustomed to seeing the end result; the game or a player’s performance.

We’re not always able to see the blood, sweat and tears that’s poured out onto the basketball court in the offseason when individual players and teams are preparing for their respective basketball seasons.  We don’t see the ups and downs that a player or a team goes through over the course of a long season.

Just think about that for a second.  What if we were able to see more of those moments?

For the basketball fans of the world, we already have an appreciation for what we see from top athletes like a Lebron James or a Stephen Curry.

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Lebron James Fun Fact:  The two-time NBA Champion didn’t wear the number 6 in Miami for the reasons that most fans believe he did.  Lebron’s first child was born on October 6, 2004 and his second child was born in June of 2007.  According to Lebron, that’s why he wore the number 6 as a member of the Miami Heat. (msn.com, “30 interesting facts about Lebron James”)

So, just imagine how much greater that level of appreciation would be if we had more access to what’s going on behind the scenes.

What if we could witness Curry get up over a thousand shots a day? 

What if we could witness Lebron’s three-part workout, consisting of sprints on the track, weight lifting in the weight room and then skill work on the basketball court?

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Stephen Curry Fun Fact:  The NBA’s reigning MVP and the 2015 NBA Champion once said that if he were to play in the NFL, he would be a “second-string punter.” (complex.com, “30 Things You (Probably) Didn’t Know About Steph Curry”)

These are the things that we don’t get to see.

Well, that’s what a guy by the name of Brian Macon allows us to see.  Brian started playing the game of basketball at the age of six and he never looked back.

He’s now an elite basketball skills trainer based in Florida, responsible for a lot of the growth seen in both young and adult basketball players today.

Brian’s approach is the same for everyone that he trains, providing them with a level of training that is considered beyond the times, so to speak.

This is something that I’ve been able to witness on his social media platforms, a hub in which he posts a lot of his training videos.

He’s definitely taking advantage of this evolution of technology by putting eyes to the impact that he’s having on athletes as well as showcasing his knowledge of the game.

For Brian, it’s about packaging his work just like it is for the average journalist.

Brian’s not only preparing for an endless amount of training sessions or putting basketball players through workouts.  He also has those moments captured on video and then edited in a way that the viewer finds the content to be very fundamental and consistent.

However, even with putting that additional work in off of the court, who seems to get the bulk of the credit, if not all of it when you think about a player’s talent?

It’s the player, of course.  However, if there was a league or a broadcast that highlighted the trainers that stand behind these elite and most-improved athletes, we might actually see the tables turn a bit.

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Brian Macon giving a group of his young athletes instructions during a Handlelife basketball training session.

If there was an outlet dedicated to the journey of the trainer, hypothetically speaking, then I’m sure Brian would find himself showcased, as he’s having quite the impact as an important piece to Handlelife.

Handlelife is a sports training and lifestyle brand that focuses on motivating athletes as well as everyday people to work hard at perfecting their crafts.

Brian is a great representation of those grueling training sessions, the ups and downs that come with being an athlete, and of a game that is constantly evolving.

Brian grew up playing basketball and reached the collegiate ranks, making a name for himself in the sport.  As a student athlete at Miami-Dade College, Brian found himself ranked top 5 in the nation in assists.  And that was just after two seasons with the team.

Brian also helped lead his team to a conference championship.  After receiving those accolades at Miami-Dade College, Brian took an onward and upward move to Boston University.

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Brian during his playing days at Boston University.

At Boston University, Brian continued to be a floor general, leading his team in assists and becoming a co-captain after his first season with the team.

Brian’s career on the court might have ended after an ACL injury, but he didn’t let that stop him from continuing his love for the game, this time in a different facet though.

Brian decided to make the transition from player to trainer shortly after the injury, taking his personal experiences and years of knowledge to the up-and-coming ball players out there as well as those developing at the collegiate and professional ranks.

Today, Brian is one of the most pursued basketball trainers in the South Florida area and he’s managing Handlelife’s Florida division.

I have a lot of admiration for the empire that he has helped build, one that led him to working with two of my good friends, Paul Easton and Aaron Walsh of Drills And Skills Basketball.

As a basketball player myself and as someone who played from the age of six all the way up to the collegiate level, I can honestly say that behind every great athlete is a dedicated and highly-skilled trainer.

For many athletes out there today, that’s who Brian is to them and I’m proud to now have him apart of the Intern Media family.

Go to the next page of this article and checkout my interview with Brian as we went in depth with his history as a former player and now as a trainer who’s experiencing a lot of victories in his life.

These victories are not necessarily games won though.  Instead, the victories that Brian is experiencing today has everything to do with the lives that he’s impacting with his elite training methods.

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Brian at The Palace of Auburn Hills (Home of the NBA’s Detroit Pistons) teaching a group of youth at one of Handlelife’s clinics.

Intern Media Week: Day 4 – Paul Easton and Aaron Walsh of Drills and Skills Basketball

by Karl Nelson II, Intern Media

In life, most people appear to be content with latching onto something that’s already built up and has proven success in a community, state, or the world at large. Few people are willing to start their own empire and work towards building it up, one brick at a time.

As a matter of fact, have you ever found yourself in a certain establishment not even giving thought to how it reached such a level of success?

A similar question can be posed when it comes to the sports world. How many times have you found yourself caught up in the hoopla surrounding a star athlete or program?

Just remember that that athlete or program didn’t just step onto the scene one day already exemplifying success. No, instead they put the hours, days, months, and years in to get to the point of notice.

As you can see, I like success stories that start from the ground up and for that same reason, I have such a high level of admiration for what two of my friends are doing right now.

Both Paul Easton and Aaron Walsh are building empires surrounding the game of basketball, a game that has brought me so much joy over the course of my life and it’s done the same for them and continues to.
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Allow me to start with my friend Paul Easton, the Founder and CEO of Drills and Skills Basketball, a basketball training platform providing players of all talent levels with elite training and development.

I had the pleasure of meeting Easton when I stepped foot onto Marymount Universities campus in Arlington, VA back in 2010. At the time, he was working as part of the universities security team, but he didn’t allow that to keep him from his love for basketball as he coached at a local private high school, Bishop Denis J. O’Connell High School, as an Assistant.

From there, he moved onto a head coaching position at a high school in Maryland that was looking to grow their basketball program, and Easton had quite the success in doing so.

However, there was something that must have been pulling at Easton because he decided to start training players for more than just his love for working with passionate athletes. He wanted to take it a step further.

How’d he go about doing that?

Easton turned his love for training and working with athletes into a career path and even beyond that, a way of life, something that’s working out greatly for him thus far. He started his own platform, Drills and Skills Basketball, in order to develop ball players of all talent levels, furthermore proving why he’s one of the premiere basketball trainers in the states.

Little did he know that his platform would inspire people like Aaron and I to start our own movements as well.

From the training aspect to the social media marketing piece to what this platform simply represents, Easton is building something special and as he would put it, “changing the game,” which is going to eventually propel he and his platform to a level where only some can dream of going.

I chose to highlight Easton for the simple fact that beyond what he’s doing as the Founder of Drills and Skills, his platform has inspired me to continue to work around the clock with my Intern Media platform.

It’s amazing how two separate fields of interests can collide like that, right?

Well, that’s what’s happening here, and this is only the beginning.

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Some might ask why I chose to make this selection for Intern Media Week a joint venture.

For those that are curious, I did it because Aaron Walsh’s new endeavor has a lot to do with Paul Easton.

Walsh has been apart of the Drills and Skills movement since the beginning given not only his relationship with Easton, but his passion and knowledge for the game of basketball. Ever since I’ve known Walsh, he’s been one of the hardest workers on the basketball court that I’ve been around.

Playing with him in college not only pushed me to work on my game outside of practices and games, but it also raised my level of competition when we went head to head in practice or the average pickup game.

Walsh is one of those guys who’s going to go out there and leave it all on the court no matter what’s at stake and he’s now able to preach that same mentality to younger ball players on the rise.

However, don’t think because Walsh is no longer playing under the whistle means that he’s not still living out that same passion on the basketball court.

Walsh applies that same mindset to what he does as a trainer and coach today, demanding effort and an eagerness to learn from the kids and adults that he’s working with. And it’s working out quite well for the Prince George’s County native.

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Right now, Walsh is furthering his education at our alma mater, Marymount University, and also working on campus. But that hasn’t stopped him from dedicating himself to something that will be lucrative down the line and it goes to show how much he believes in creating and also impacting the lives of others through his passion.

Intern Media is all about providing others with a platform for their stories and highlighting great work and I can honestly say that both Paul Easton and Aaron Walsh made that very easy for me in this write up.

I’m not only honored to be able to share my thoughts on them in front of my following, but I’m also honored to be able to call both of them good friends of mine.

If you or someone you know is serious about the game of basketball and wants to grow in their skills and nurture their talents in a positive and hard working environment, these are the guys to connect with, hands down.

Intern Media is happy to present to you Paul Easton and Aaron Walsh of Drills and Skills Basketball as part of Intern Media Week.

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Intern Media Week: Day 2 – Jonte “Too Tall” Hall, shortest Harlem Globetrotter ever

by Karl Nelson II, Intern Media

“The smallest player in the prestigious 89-year history of the Globetrotters, the 1.55-metre guard – or five feet two inches in the old language – defied the odds to showcase his talent with the greatest exhibition team on the planet.” ~ Lee Gaskin of The Canberra Times (from a June 2015 interview with Mr. Hall)

Jonte Hall, also known as “Too Tall” as a member of the world-renowned Harlem Globetrotters, experienced what some would call a rough patch, just several years ago. In his late twenties, Hall was working around the clock in pursuit of his dream; to play professional basketball one day.

However, at that time, Hall’s window was not just closing, in the eyes of some it was actually shut as he found himself working overnight shifts, buffing floors at office buildings in Baltimore County.

I don’t say that to degrade anyone that works in that field, but for Mr. Hall, I believe anyone would be able to understand my point just by reading the title of this piece; hence the Harlem Globetrotter reference.

Anyone who’s able to attain such an accomplishment was obviously not meant to spend the rest of their life or career cleaning office buildings.

Nonetheless, that’s what he was forced to do just years ago because like everyone else in America, he had bills.

We’ve all been faced with that reality, right?

That moment when reality sets in and the ways of this world put us in a position where we have to make a choice, it’s either our dreams and aspirations or doing what we have to do to put food on the table. It’s not a fun position to be in and Hall is very much so in touch with that feeling.

At that time in Mr. Hall’s life, I had the rare opportunity to be caught up right in the midst of his setbacks as well as his victories. As a matter of fact, there were some nights when I was the person that my good friend called upon at the end of those late night shifts, when he needed a ride home or just someone to talk to about everyday life issues.

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I still remember those conversations that we had like it was just yesterday when Hall would tell me about his workouts on the vacant floors of those office buildings.

Here’s a guy that would take his lunch or dinner breaks for that matter and spend them on those vacant floors doing basketball drills as well as strength and conditioning workouts. As prize fighter Floyd Mayweather Jr. would put it, that’s that “hard work and dedication!”

I know what you guys are thinking.

What a story, right?

A young African American male from Baltimore, experiencing humbling times several years back, but now has ‘Harlem Globetrotter’ next to his name. That’s definitely a story worthy of radio or television time.

However, while that’s quite the success story, it goes so much deeper than just that. What I just mentioned only scratches the surface for the great life that is Jonte Hall.

Hall, 32, might have come up in a tough environment at a young age, but thanks to a loving mother, a few mentors along the way, and a good head on his shoulders, he didn’t allow himself to be defined by what was going on around him. Instead, he demanded for others to define him by his quality of life.

Hall fell in love with the game of basketball at a young age and as much as some people will try to act as if a sport is not a true passion to have, they’re wrong. Sometimes something as simple as a sport can save one’s life by keeping them focused and out of trouble on the day-to-day.

That’s the reality for many young black males coming up in environments like Baltimore City and surrounding areas where trouble can frequently find you.

That’s something that the game of basketball did for Hall, even in his twenties. While some believed his dream should have been put to rest at a certain point, thank God Hall stayed the course and kept his goal in the forefront of his life.

After all, anyone can decide to hang up their dreams after being hit hard by the hand that society deals us, but it takes a special person to stay the course for that special day when they can now wake up and live their dream.

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That mindset is what catapulted Hall into becoming a member of the Washington Generals, an American exhibition basketball team that you’ll always see on the same court as the Globetrotters, in a losing effort that is, and if you have any knowledge of the Globetrotter history, you’d know that I say that in all fun. The Generals gave Hall his first opportunity to showcase his talents as a basketball player on a national stage and before he knew it, he was signing his contract with one of the most historic basketball platforms in sports history; the Globetrotters of course.

Since then, he’s been traveling the world with the Globetrotters doing what he loves to do and putting smiles on the faces of thousands in the process.

Hall’s testimony speaks volume to what the Bible says about faith, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1)

Sure, you might fail or better yet fall in the midst of following your dreams, but just like in a real dream, you can also get up, dust yourself off and keep moving onward and upward.

If Hall would have decided to stay where he fell, then his testimony probably wouldn’t have the impact it has today and he wouldn’t be waking up doing what he loves on a daily basis, able to touch lives beyond just his hometown.

I selected Hall for Intern Media Week, not only because he’s like a big brother and close friend, but also because his story deserves to be spread to others. His life is a representation that not every sports figure or celebrity figure changes for the success and the fame.

I’ve known Hall for years now and I can’t lie about the fact that he’s literally the same humble and positive guy that I met when he was an average guy walking the streets of my hometown. Instead of allowing his success to change him, he’s decided to change the perception of those who are famous and successful in the entertainment world.

That said, it’s my honor and privilege to be able to highlight someone that’s been a big brother to me and a supporter of my endeavors. And I’m confident that his story will leave you wanting to know more about this deep and talented brother, Mr. Jonte Hall.

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