Tate George was riding high, having just nailed one of the most electrifying buzzer beaters in NCAA tournament history. His turnaround jumper with one second left on March 22, 1990, sent top-seeded Connecticut past No. 5 seed Clemson and into the Elite Eight. Even sweeter, the 6'5" senior did it in Brendan Byrne Arena in East Rutherford, N.J., mere miles from the Newark streets he grew up on and still called home.
So when he walked in the door of his family's second-floor apartment later that night, he expected a party. Instead he got a dose of reality, courtesy of Mom.
"She said, 'If you're going to stay here tonight, you're going to take out the garbage,' " recalls George.
Erica Woods was teaching her son a lesson, one that's stuck with him for 20 years. "Never forget where you come from, because tomorrow is never promised," says George.
He has not forgotten. After finishing his NBA career (three years with the Nets and one with the Bucks), George successfully moved into the world of real estate. As the CEO and chairman of the board of The George Group LLC, which he started back in 2000, George is doing his part to help urban communities—most notably in Newark—redevelop retail, residential and commercial properties.
George was an outspoken supporter of bringing the Nets to downtown Newark's Prudential Center, where they'll play starting next fall until their new arena in Brooklyn is ready. It's all part of his commitment to changing the fortunes of his beloved hometown.
"It's galvanizing to a community that has nothing to look forward to," says George. "There's not much hope. And sport is a universal time for people to come together."
GETTY IMAGES (GEORGE ACTION)
HOME COOKIN' Not far from his old stomping grounds, George jettisoned Clemson with this turnaround 15-footer as time expired.
MICHAEL J. LEBRECHT II/1DEUCE3 PHOTOGRAPHY (GEORGE)
[See caption above]