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Shannon Sharpe spotlights his career for Steward Speaker Series

The theme for the 2023-2024 speaker series is sports and education in the African American community, and Sharpe spoke to the theme at the Thursday, Feb. 22 event.

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Off the heels of NBA All-Star Weekend, NFL Hall of Famer, sports commentator and weekly podcast host of “Club Shay Shay,” Shannon Sharpe was a guest speaker for this year’s Steward Speakers Series.

This year’s theme was influenced by studies that show that students who participate in team sports do better academically in school.

Sharpe spoke to an audience inside Warren Central High School’s Performing Arts Auditorium about the connection between sports and education.

RELATED: Team Shannon Sharpe defeats Team Stephen A. 100-91 In Celebrity All-Star Game in Indy

“I remember leaving my grandmother’s house in 1986 with two brown paper bags with my belongings in them. I went to HBCU Savannah State for two reasons: to get my degree and to play in the national football league,” said Sharpe.

“Now, I didn’t know which one was going to happen, but I knew they were going to happen. If I’m going to go somewhere in four years, I might as well get something out of it while I’m down here.”

Shannon Sharpe: Stewart Speakers Series

Local NBA and WNBA host Olivia West moderated the event, which featured questions about Sharpe’s take on his past, present and future.

With a recurring message of not letting people place you in a box, Sharpe told West about his background, upbringing, career, children, new podcast and how Hollywood is reacting to his recent interviews with comedians Katt Williams and Mo’Nique.

“Our community after NBA All-Star, it’s the place to be. Even before NBA All-Star, it was the place to be, but now we have proved it. Naptown, we’re not sleep. People are sleeping on us. For this event, it’s not a monologue or just a dialogue, it’s truly us listening and learning from each other,” said West.

“A couple of months ago, I saw Matthew Steward at an event in Downtown Indy, and I tapped him on the shoulder, and I said, ‘Matt, it’s more than just talk. I’m Olivia West, and I want to partner with you,’ because I knew Shannon Sharpe was coming.”

Matthew Steward is the founder and president of the Steward Speaker Series, which has been hosting speaking events for the last 37 years.

Sports & Education

Speakers for the 2023-2024 sports and education series include Shannon Sharpe, Deion Sanders, college football coach and former NFL player, Jacqueline McWilliams, the first female commissioner of the CIAA and the first female African American commissioner of NCAA Division I, II and III, and Jackie Joyner-Kersee, retried track and field athlete.

“This event is phenomenal, particularly to young people because it’s critically important for them to see somebody that looks like them. He even talked about his grades initially in grade school, saying they were not the best and how he ended up selecting the school that he did,” said Steward.

“Over 1,000 people signed up for this event. Having Shannon Sharpe here in the building is just really impactful. Young people as well as adults are listening and resonating with what he’s saying, to be the best that you can be and always put your best food forward.”

Contact staff writer Jade Jackson at (317) 762-7853 or by email JadeJ@IndyRecorder.com. Follow her on Twitter @IAMJADEJACKSON. 

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