SPEECH TITLES AND/OR TOPICS
Education | Inspiration | Personal Development | Sports
Curtis Pride was born in Washington, D.C. on December 17, 1968. By the age of nine months, audio-logical tests confirmed that he was profoundly deaf from birth. At age two, his parents moved to Silver Spring, Maryland and enrolled him in the Montgomery County Public School System's Auditory Service infant program. He was fully mainstreamed into his neighborhood schools from seventh grade until his graduation from John F. Kennedy High School in Silver Spring in 1986.
In addition to graduating with a 3.6 GPA, Mr. Pride enjoyed an outstanding high school athletic career. He broke virtually all of the single season and career records for soccer, basketball and baseball at Kennedy High School. He was also a first team All-American soccer player and a member of the United States National Team that participated in the Junior World Cup in Beijing, China in 1985. As a result of his play for the U.S. Team, he was selected by Kick Magazine as one of the top fifteen youth soccer players in the world.
Prior to his high school graduation, Curtis Pride--who had already accepted a full basketball scholarship to the College of William and Mary--was drafted by the New York Mets Baseball Organization. Through a unique arrangement negotiated among the Pride family, the Mets and the College of William and Mary, he signed with the Mets as a part-time professional baseball player while he also attended college as a full-time student athlete. He was a four-year basketball starter at point guard at William and Mary and graduated in 1990 with a degree in finance.
In 1992, Mr. Pride signed with the Montreal Expos as a minor league free agent. In 1993, he received a September promotion to the major leagues after batting a combined .324 with 21 home runs and 50 stolen bases in AA and AAA. He made the most of this opportunity as he finished his initial major league season with a .444 batting average, including a memorable double for his first major league hit that resulted in a five minute standing ovation from a capacity crowd at Montreal's Olympic Stadium.
In the spring of 1996, Curtis Pride was invited to spring training by the Detroit Tigers and won a spot on the major league team. He was with the Tigers the entire year, becoming the first regular full-season deaf player in the modern history of major league baseball. The season of 1996 was, in fact, a breakthrough season for Mr. Pride, as he hit .300 in 267 at-bats for the Tigers with 10 home runs and 11 stolen bases. He was also with Detroit for the majority of the 1997 season, and then signed in September 1997 with the Boston Red Sox. On September 19, 1997 he hit a home run at Fenway Park in his first at-bat for Boston, becoming only the seventh player in the long history of the Red Sox organization to accomplish that feat.
In February 1998, Curtis Pride became a member of the Atlanta Braves, one of America's most successful and widely followed major league teams. He hit .252 in 70 games for the Braves in 1998 and played a valuable role in the team's advancement to the National League Playoffs.
Mr. Pride suffered an injury to his right wrist subsequent to the 1998 season and had surgery on the wrist in March 1999. He fully recovered from that surgery, and his path back to the major leagues was completed in June 2000 when he was signed to a contract by the Boston Red Sox. In 2001 he rejoined the Montreal Expos. Then in the summer of 2003, he was signed by the New York Yankees and joined the Yankees roster in New York on July 4, 2003. Continuing his flair for the dramatic, on July 6, 2003 he hit a home run in his first game for the Yankees that resulted in a sustained standing ovation and "curtain call" from the sold-out crowd at historic Yankee Stadium. This memorable moment resulted in another collection of national media attention on Curtis Pride's amazing story.
In 2004, Mr. Pride became a member of the Los Angeles Angels and played for the Angels in 2004, 2005, and 2006.
On November 3, 2008 Curtis Pride made headlines again when he announced his retirement from professional baseball to become the head baseball coach at Gallaudet University. Located in Washington D.C., Gallaudet is the world's leading university for the education and career development of deaf and hard of hearing students.
In all, Mr. Pride played in 421 games in the major leagues, with a .250 career batting average, 20 home runs and 82 RBI's. His 421 major league games are, by far, the most played by a deaf player since William Hoy ended his major league career over 105 years ago in 1902.
Curtis Pride receives hundreds of letters each year, primarily from young men and women with disabilities or their parents, and tries to make time to personally answer each and every letter. In addition, he makes numerous public appearances on behalf of children with and without disabilities. His incredible story has been featured in publications such as Readers Digest, Sports Illustrated, The Sporting News, and newspapers such as The New York Times, Los Angeles Times and Boston Globe. The CBS Television show 48 Hours with Dan Rather did a nationally broadcast feature on Mr. Pride in April 1996, and has subsequently broadcast updates to that story in both 1999 and 2003.
Curtis Pride has also received countless national and local awards for his achievements and his community service. Recent noteworthy honors include being selected by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as "one of the nation's ten outstanding young Americans". He was also named the 1996-97 "Role Model of the Year" by the Alexander Graham Bell Association, and was selected by the Baseball Writers Association to receive the Tony Conigliaro Award, presented annually to a major league player who has overcome adversity through the attributes of spirit, courage and determination.
On June 23, 2010 President Barack Obama announced the appointment of Curtis Pride to the President's Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition. The Council is a committee of volunteer citizens who advise the President through the Secretary of Health and Human Services about opportunities to develop accessible, affordable and sustainable physical activity, fitness, sports and nutrition programs for all Americans. Other noteworthy athletes who are serving with Mr. Pride on the committee include NFL quarterback Drew Brees, Olympic champions Dominique Dawes and Michelle Kwan, NBA players Grant Hill and Chris Paul, NASCAR driver Carl Edwards, and tennis legend Billie Jean King.