WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Tennis star Lenny Simpson grew up in Wilmington during a time of racial tension. Now, he’s back to tell his story, and share ideas on how to combat violence in Wilmington’s youth.
Simpson says tennis was his life from a young age. And during a time when racial tensions were high, a black male playing a predominantly white sport was out of the ordinary.
“At fifteen then, in the 60s, 1964 to be exact, you know everything was white,” Simpson said. “Tennis shorts were white. Shirt was white. Tennis balls were white. All the crowd that was there was there was white. I was like one of the two little dark spots in the whole arena.”
But he says that never bothered him because he had a solid support system that included his parents, and many role models.
They kept him focused on his goal, success.
“All of those people kind of gathered me and put their arms around me, and said, ‘young man, we’re here for you, we’re going to help you become successful in whatever you want to do,’” Simpson added
But some young men and women in the port city are not as fortunate. Simpson says that causes them to go out of bounds in their lives.
That’s why Simpson’s back, to help serve up a change.
“I say to those young men, those young ladies that are looking for a place, are searching, you have choices to make, you’ve got to make the right choices in life,” Simpson said.
And for those who make the right choices, Simpson says there is always help.
Simpson is teaming up with UNCW and the Greater Wilmington Sports Hall of Fame to host a tennis extravaganza November 24 at UNCW’s Trask Coliseum.