Etan Thomas to discuss book, fatherhood on Schine Underground panel

The former SU basketball player will speak to students at 2:15 on Saturday.

Etan Thomas had a memorable basketball career. During his time at Syracuse, he was twice named Big East Defensive Player of the Year. In 2000, he was a first round pick in the NBA Draft by the Dallas Mavericks. 

This weekend, Thomas is returning to the SU campus. Though many eyes will be on him, they will not be watching him on the basketball court. 

Thomas has returned to his alma mater to participate in the 31st annual Coming Back Together (CBT) weekend, which celebrates the accomplishments of African American and Latino alumni while connecting current students with these role models. 

On Saturday, Thomas will be one of six members on a “Fatherhood Panel” at 2:15 p.m. in the Schine Underground. Other panelists include former Syracuse basketball players Roosevelt Bouie, Derrick Coleman, Lawrence Moten, Billy Owens and John Wallace. 

“Its amazing to be able to come back and participate in this panel,” Thomas said. “These other panelists are basketball legends that I grew up watching and admiring.” 

The panelists will talk about fatherhood from different perspectives, Thomas said. 

Thomas wants the event to be interactive instead of merely a mass lecture. For that reason, having students attend the lecture is crucial. That includes both male and female students. 

“We will talk about our lives and experiences at SU, but we also want to connect with students and hear about their experiences and different things going on around campus,” Thomas said. 

Fatherhood is a meaningful topic for Thomas, who grew up in a single-parent home. Thomas wrote a book, “Fatherhood: Rising to the Ultimate Challenge,” in 2013. The book includes essays and poems from many public figures including Taye Diggs, Ice Cube, Michael Moore, Tony Hawk and Al Sharpton. 

Social activism is also familiar terrain for Thomas, who has worked with the NAACP, spoken at anti-war rallies and supported Obama’s campaign. 

Thomas recently sat on a panel that spoke to over 320 teenaged men at Rikers Island. Many had grown up in single-parent homes and had children on their own, he said. 

Unlike some “experts” who believe they are doomed to life in jail, Thomas believes that children in single-parent households can write their own outcome. That will be one of the focal messages of Saturday’s program. 

“You can be the difference; you all can do anything that you want to do – and that’s not just some corny cliché,” he said. “If you seriously want to put your mind to something, you can.” 

Attendees must pick up free tickets at the Schine Box Office.

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