Ian Thomas Minor may work with school kids, but his greatest lessons don’t always happen in a classroom.

“Basketball has taught me to compete on a higher level. What I didn’t have, I wanted to be able to give,” says Thomas Minor.

The 32-year-old stands at 6 foot 2 and plays ball, all while serving as a mentor and educator in various after school programs in New York City.

“When I was younger, it was a job, I was somebody’s coach, but I didn’t know the importance and significance I could play in the kids life,” he says.

Thomas Minor says he came up in a rough environment and took on adult responsibilities early, serving as the primary caregiver for his younger sisters. That has translated to a passion for sports and teaching kids.

Now, he runs his own youth non-profit called Connective and an annual youth basketball camp called Battle in the Bluffs, which takes students to Martha’s Vineyard for sports and life lessons.

“If I didn’t have basketball, I wouldn’t want to come to school,” says Thomas Minor. “That’s why I started my non-profit, because it addresses what students really need to be successful. These kids are highly functional if engaged in a different way.”

The success of his programs are a testament to the type of education Thomas Minor says really matters in the long run.

“It’s not necessarily about grades or being valedictorian or having a 4.0…  It’s about being an advocate for your own education, being able to talk in a way that people can receive your message and hear it.”

He’s also discovered some of his greatest work in being a father to an 8-year-old daughter.

“One of my biggest successes is my daughter thinking I’m the coolest dude around,”  says Thomas Minor. “Being involved in her life, learning on the job as a father, that’s something that I value.”

With Battle of the Bluffs is in its fourth year and Thomas Minor tallying 11 years working in education, he’s found his purpose by being true to himself and others:

“I think I’ll be educating and empowering for the rest of my life.”


Tweet your congratulations to Ian Thomas minor at @thegrio using the hashtags #LOTNS and share your stories of who’s empowering students in your community!