Shelton Hawkins loves basketball. It just makes him feel better. He has turned to the sport for comfort many times in his life.
So the 38-year-old former Weatherford College Coyote basketball player (2002-04) has devoted himself to making others feel better through basketball—all the while honoring the memory of his late cousin James, who passed away in 2004 while playing basketball in their hometown of Easton, Maryland.
The project Hawkins is currently working on is “Play In Color,” a community-based project that refurbishes rundown outdoor basketball courts with art. Old and worn out becomes new, bright and beautiful, creating an opportunity to not only enjoy a game of basketball but to soak in a colorful, uplifting experience that even those who do not play the game can love.
“I wanted to do something that would keep his name alive and that had deep meaning for our family and the community,” Hawkins said. “So, the goal was to fix up the local basketball courts and the project began.”
After graduating from WC, Hawkins transferred to Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, where he earned a degree in mass communication. And that is exactly what he is doing now, communicating to the masses through this project.
Hawkins has moved back to Easton and teaches art at a local high school, Saint Charles.
“I love it,” he said.
He simply loves using art to make a difference, and it’s allowed him to work with some pretty big names. For example, he teamed with Under Armour as they donated seven pairs of Steph Curry basketball shoes during the Governor’s Challenge in late December, the largest holiday high school basketball tournament in the country. Hawkins and several friends painted the shoes and mounted them on wood to be presented as trophies.
Hawkins also painted 30 basketballs with abstract designs for teams that won their brackets. They were also donated by Under Armour.
“We are in the process of working with a major sneaker company, LEGO and a few other brands for projects in 2020,” Hawkins said.
Hawkins has also worked with, arguably, the biggest name in basketball history, LeBron James, designing the basketball court at the LeBron James’ Promise School in Akron, Ohio.
“It wasn’t my first time being around LeBron. I was around him for my time with USA basketball,” Hawkins said. “He is an amazing person, and seeing him in his community was really special. It was truly a blessing working with him, NBA 2K and Project Backboard. I enjoyed seeing how much LeBron really cares about the youth and his community.”
Hawkins comes from an artistic family. He said his earliest memories of his dad were sitting around the dinner table drawing for hours.
“My dad was really into art and just being creative,” he said. “I have a 2-year-old daughter named Parker who loves to draw and color all day. It means a lot to me because it is the same thing my dad used to do with me, and now I am getting to do it with my daughter.
“My girlfriend and I just created a company called Parker Dash Studios, which is named after our daughter, that allows the whole family to work on creative projects. Art is truly a part of our daily lives.”
This summer is going to be a busy time, Hawkins said. He has five courts to complete and several other projects in the works.
“I think it is pretty cool what he is doing now,” Coyotes coach Mark Osina said. “He’s really talented, and what he’s doing is making folks feel positive. I’m pretty proud of him.”
Hawkins said he is thankful to be able to share his story with his Weatherford family.
“I really enjoyed my time there and believe that Weatherford is an important part of my story,” Hawkins said. “I want to say thank you to Coach O for yelling at me every day. I know he yelled because he cared and wanted the best for me. Many of the lessons he taught me I still use to this day.”