Keynote speaker urges graduates to get in the game

October 13, 2017 / by / 1 Comment

The Keynote speaker at Grand Canyon University's fall commencement gave graduates something to remember. Dave Davlin, who combines entertainment with a powerful message, gave graduates the real meaning of success. He reminded them that like a game of basketball, life is ticking. "No one ever became the hero while sitting on the bench," he said.

By Jeannette Cruz 
GCU News Bureau

Dave Davlin

Dave Davlin did something a bit different Friday when he delivered his keynote address at Grand Canyon University commencement.

It was his first time speaking to a graduating class, and he couldn’t have been more excited to tell his audience about the importance of developing themselves and making a difference along the way. 

“Really, in the end, all you have left is the memories you’ve created with your family and friends,” he said afterward. “Money is important, but it can only be a great asset to your life if you have the right attitude. Or else it can destroy you.

“What I like about commencement is that you have graduates who have just completed their degrees and are starting their new journey, and that’s what I try to get them to understand. I see life as a gift that I don’t ever want to take for granted. One day when you are 90 and you look back at your life, the pickup truck, the nice car, the home won’t matter to you. What will matter is the person you become, the memories you create and the difference you make.”

Davlin, who for more than 25 years has entertained people with his amazing talent with basketballs, not only fed a nursing student pudding while a basketball spun on the spoon, he also delivered a message about the true measure of success.

Here’s a sample:

“Wherever you choose to go, success will come down to one thing – making somebody’s life better. What you do for others, in the end, is going to be more than what you do for yourself. And, sometimes, we think it’s the big things that make the biggest difference in our lives, but I will tell you from my experience in my life, it’s the smallest things you do on a consistent basis that make you who you are.

Davlin is in the Guinness Book of World Records for his ability to spin basketballs, and a fun part of his talk was having a graduate eat pudding from a cup with a spoon — which he used to spin a ball.

“It’s the little things you do every day that are insignificant to you that could make the biggest difference in someone else’s life to a point where 30 years from now you’re sitting over here at Cracker Barrel – you’re having the Old-Timer’s Breakfast because you are an old-timer – and somebody taps you on the shoulder. They say, ‘Dave, you don’t remember me, but I remember you.’”

Davlin told the story about how one waitress in a small Texas town not only left her customers with a wonderful dining experience, she left the biggest tip of all. The waitress, Mary, worked at the local restaurant for more than 40 years before being forced to retire for health reasons.

She loved high school sports and the high school band and even attended every football game, basketball game and marching band contest for 28 years. She loved to talk sports, and professional players who would eat at the restaurant often would ask to be seated at one of her tables. When Mary passed away at the age of 71, the boys and girls of the varsity basketball teams wore “Miss Mary” bands on their uniforms and declared her their “guardian angel.”

Davlin then disclosed that Mary was his mother.

He continued, “When I tell this story, sometimes it’s difficult for me because I have to be willing to admit that at one point in my life I was disappointed in my mom and considered her an underachiever. My mom was valedictorian of her high school class. She had a full-ride dance scholarship to Texas Christian University – she never finished. She was smart. She was funny. She played the piano by ear. She was loved. But she waited tables.

“I’ll tell you something I learned the hard way, guys. What’s most important is not about what you do in life. What’s most important is what you do with life, and if a waitress in a town of 2,500 people could have that kind of impact on the community, what excuse do students at Grand Canyon University have for not doing the same?”

In closing, Davlin urged students to start thinking about life as the legacy they will leave.  

“You see, guys, life is a lot like the end of a basketball game,” he said. “… You can choose to watch the game go by and use excuses as your defense, but no one ever became the hero while sitting on the bench. … The clock is ticking for all of us, and as players we get one shot at this life.”

Davlin was born in Dallas and raised in a small town 90 miles south of the city. Abandoned by his father when he was less than a year old, he was forced to live with his grandmother until he was 10. He received his college degree from Texas A&M University, where he majored in education.

He began his career as a featured performer at halftime of NBA and NCAA basketball games, and he set a Guinness World Record by simultaneously spinning 12 basketballs on his body for 7.97 seconds. As a motivational speaker, Davlin has traveled to public schools across America educating students on the importance of education, setting goals, making wise decisions and living drug-free lives.

He also wrote a book, “The Game-Winning 3: A Roadmap to Professional and Personal Development.” He lives in San Antonio, Texas with his wife, Traci, and plays competitive golf on the Golf Channel AM Tour.

Contact Jeannette Cruz at (602) 639-6631 or [email protected]

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One Response
  1. Shirleye Noah

    I am very proud of Dave’s life and his success . His mother and I were first cousins and grew up together.

    May.23.2018 at 6:11 pm
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