The story of a man who lost everything. Except his will to change the world
You hear about it all the time. Athletes that leave the sport they love to pursue more meaningful, purposeful ventures. Pat Tillman–may he rest in peace–left the Arizona Cardinals in 2002 to join the army. Tiki Barber left football at the height of his career to do broadcast journalism. More recently, Larry Sanders, a key part of a young, promising and exciting Milwaukee Bucks team, walked away from nearly $30 million to meditate and regain control of his mental health. Tony Chennault‘s story is similar in its abrupt nature, but tragedy struck his life in a way that nearly left him no choice.
Chennault racked up accolades at an alarming rate early on in his career. As a high school basketball player, Chennault was awarded Gatorade State Player of The Year and Daily New Player of The Year following Neumann Goretti’s State Championship run, and from then onward, eyeballs were on him. He eventually ended up attending Wake Forest University, and played alongside Chris Paul, an experience he’ll never forget. However, in the summer of 2012, Tony would announce his transfer to Villanova University, a move based solely on his will to be near his ailing mother, and from that moment on, his life would never be the same.
That summer my brother was killed. 9 months later my mother died.
Chennault’s life–everything he held dear–was snatched from under his feet, but he didn’t buckle. Famed Villanova Men’s Basketball Head Coach Jay Wright has publicly spoken with Fox Philly 29 on his amazement at Chennault’s resilience, and will to push onward.
He was crushed when his mother passed but watching him at the funeral. We were in awe of him coming out of the funeral.
Despite his talent, and still young age (Chennault turned 24 in April), he made the career and life-defining decision to walk away from basketball for what he feels is his true purpose: getting a positive message across to the inner-city and underprivileged youth through film production. His well-receieved web series, Oldhead Chris, the first episode of which has been viewed over 27,000 times, aims to reel in young viewers with its guerilla, every day, relatable style, but still be instrumental in teaching and guiding young people safely through their respective tribulations. Who better to be at the helm, than a man who lost his family, walked away from his career and managed to begin a production company in a span of 2 years?
Chennault talked to us briefly via e-mail, and he had this to say about where he is at this current stage of his life.
I want to produce authentic positive urban content that can aspire people to live better, and I want all my characters to be real and people the audience can relate to.
And, as a closer, a bit of life philosophy from the man who has beat all perceived odds.
Attitude is big. It’s how you respond to every challenge that comes your way.