Theo continues to be ‘hero’ to Demopolis youngsters

Westside Elementary second graders received a gift of literacy and a boost of motivation from Theo Ratliff, Demopolis native and former NBA star this week.

Ratliff is the subject of the new children’s book, “Theo the Hero​”, in which he relates how he overcame the uncertainty of transitioning to a new school campus and the challenges that came with it.

pic - theo the heroSince Westside’s second graders are facing the same uncertainty when they transition to US Jones in the fall, “Theo the Hero”  provided them with some tools to use next year.

Ratliff, a product of Demopolis City Schools who went on to a highly successful college and professional basketball career, sent a personal message with each book encouraging students to make third grade a positive experience.

The former NBA All-Star’s letter to the Westside students read:

“Hello Everyone! How are you doing today? I am so happy to hear that you are going to a new school campus for 3rd grade. That sounds very fun and exciting. I know how that feels because I have had to move to new cities and new teams many times when I was playing in the NBA. It was not always what I wanted to do but I kept a smile on my face and made the best of it for me and my family. I was able to meet new friends and learn new things that helped me to become a better person.

“So I am asking that you do the same thing that I did – make the best of your new school. Put a smile on your face, meet new friends and make good grades. I know that you can do it because you want to to make your parents and your teachers proud of you.

“I want to see you in the summer at the Theo Ratliff Activity Center on June 15-16 when I come for the basketball camp. Please tell me about what you plan to do to make next year at US Jones a great year.

Your super tall Friend – Theo the Hero”

“I got the idea for all of this after I read ‘Theo the Hero’,” said Westside Elementary School Reading Coach Terri Speegle.  ​”As most teachers do, I immediately related this to our students and the fact that they will be transitioning to a new school, just the same as Theo did.”

She said Ratliff’s message became very relevent to the young students “since Theo grew up here and went to the same school they do and many of them know him from the Ratliff Center.  I contacted Ed Ward at the Ratliff Center and he and Coach Ricky Richardson put me in contact with Theo. Mr. Ward and Coach Richardson handled the delivery of the books to me.”