We are grateful to former-Neumann Goretti and Villanova University point guard Tony Chennault for stopping by our offices on Thursday, June 2nd for a conversation with PYB leaders and our corporate-based and camp-based college interns. Tony stressed the importance of education, mentorship, and opportunities beyond basketball among other goals for helping the young people of our city.
Tony grew up in the Olney area of Philadelphia and gained a reputation as a truly special player as he worked his way up through the Philadelphia Rec League and Team Philly AAU programs. In high school, he played four years of varsity basketball at Neumann under coach Carl Arrigale. During that time, he won three Philadelphia Catholic League titles, received two First Team All-State honors in Pennsylvania, and won the Pennsylvania Gatorade High School Player of the Year in his senior year as he guided his team to a state title and a No. 2 national ranking from ESPN. Tony graduated in 2010 and attended Wake Forest University for his first two years of college. He broke into the starting lineup in his sophomore year in Winston Salem, starting all 31 of the Demon Deacons’ games and finishing among the team leaders in points, steals, assists, and minutes. He transferred to Villanova for his junior and senior years to be closer to his family while his mother was ill. In his two years at ‘Nova, Tony played through the trauma of losing both his mother and brother, but still managed to be a positive mentor and leader for his teammates while providing a vital spark off the bench. He graduated in 2014 with a degree in communication and is now looking to embark on a new journey as a film producer and a motivational speaker for young people around the city of Philadelphia.
Despite having to overcome mountains of adversity in his life journey so far, Tony has found a worthwhile passion away from the game of basketball, and on Thursday he stressed the power of education and mentorship in allowing him to do so.
“Education of any kind is hugely important,” Tony said. “If you get educated and surround yourself with good mentors, you realize that you can truly have the option to go beyond your physical abilities of playing the game of basketball and succeed off the court.”
Speaking about the mission of PYB in particular, Tony continually emphasized the impact that carrying out that mission could have for young Philadelphia communities.
“PYB can provide the platform to help those kids who aren’t super talented but simply love the game of basketball,” he said. “Those are the kids who can use basketball to be leaders in the community if they has these types of programs to provide them with a safe haven where basketball can provide them with a purpose and an outlet.”
“Often times, kids in Philly get caught up in the idea of their communities being the ones that determine success for them, rather than them determining their own success,” Tony continued. “Having a facility like the one that PYB will build can provide kids with the basketball safe haven to make them realize that they can create their own success in life.”
We thank Tony for his inspiration and wisdom, and wish him success in his future career and leadership endeavors. Check out his film short series on mentorship “Old Head” on YouTube.