Robbie Valentine is a hometown hero to many.
After a major role in North Hardin High School’s state runner-up finish in the 1982 Sweet 16 state basketball championship and being a finalist for Kentucky’s Mr. Basketball honors, Valentine enrolled at the University of Louisville and was on the roster when the Cardinals brought home an NCAA title in 1986.
He continues to be active in sports and entertainment today as senior director of sales for ASM Global, the management group that operates the KFC Yum! Center, where Valentine maintains an office.
In a recent discussion with Radcliff city officials, he shared the circumstances of his upbringing. The street now known as Robbie Valentine Drive passes the modest place he called home.
Raised in a single-parent household where his mother emphasized education and values, Valentine said he found male role models in coaches including Ron Bevars and Denny Crum. The kindness of others, particularly the local Optimist Club, helped him discover a gateway to his future through athletics, he said. The club picked up the tab for registration fees in youth activities.
It’s a nice story and when he talks about giving back by staging his own basketball camp in Radcliff, it can create a feeling of warmth.
But as he made the pitch about giving, he also asked for a gift of $10,000 from Radcliff City Council. That’s taxpayer money from a city that often must take frugal steps to make its financial ends meet.
It would be wonderful for Robbie Valentine to go full circle and provide hometown kids with opportunities like he once had. Hopefully, he can find a way to fulfill that passion, but not at the city’s expense.
If a nonprofit organization or community benefactor could embrace this effort, it would be exciting to see 200 Radcliff kids get the same opportunity Robbie and his brother Gary once received.
“I want to bring (people) ... to talk to the kids that say, ‘Hey, if you listen to your parents, stay out of trouble, respect adults, turn in your homework, read books, you’re going to make it.’ And they need to hear that,” he said.
Let’s hope he does all those things and a new generation of successful young kids can appreciate his life story and model their own after it. But when you are offering kids a hand up, having your own hand out is not the best image.