"I'm going to keep coming back and donating stuff for the kids until my name is on the gym!"
Those were the words and the promise Steven "Shea" Serrano made to Stevenson Middle School principal Ruth Ruiz more than a year ago. As with most things that he's a part of, Shea was half joking and half serious.
On Thursday, May 10th, 2018 the school delivered on its end of the deal. The school gym was renamed and dedicated as "Serrano Gymnasium".
For many years, Serrano worked at the South Houston middle school as a science teacher. He also volunteered as the school's basketball and football coach. Serrano quit teaching to become a full-time writer, penning The Rap Year Book as well as Basketball (And Other Things), both of which eventually made it to the New York Times' Best Seller list.
At the start of his writing career, Shea wrote for the Houston Press music site and also served as "The Nightfly", where he covered local bars and nightlife.
As his popularity as a pop culture icon grew, so did his philanthropic and charitable works. He has used his recognition to secure hundreds of pairs of shoes for the boys and girls basketball and baseball teams at Stevenson. He also helped raise more than $130,000 for Hurricane Harvey Relief after last year's storm. His other contributions include donations to The Children's Shelter in his hometown of San Antonio, and a large donation to Planned Parenthood on International Women's Day.
Serrano was joined by his wife and youngest child at ceremony held Thursday afternoon in the school atrium. They were met with a large crowd of students and school faculty who applauded and cheered when they saw the former teacher.
After a brief introduction by Principal Ruiz, a young student athlete named Aracely Almaguer, dressed in her purple and gold basketball uniform, read a biography of Serrano. That was followed by heartfelt and emotional words of appreciation by teacher Patricia Babin, who played a major supporting role in Serrano's
time at the school.
Serrano was then invited to speak, and in true "Shea" fashion, he told a few jokes, but more importantly thanked the staff and his former colleagues for their support and hard work. He also thanked his wife Larami who was in the audience, as well as his family back in San Antonio.
The ribbon cutting followed, and Serrano uncovered the nameplate to the newly minted "Serrano Gymnasium". He also posed for photos with all the kids in attendance, signing many shoes in the process.
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It was then time to do one of his favorite things - shoot around on the basketball court. Again, in true Shea Serrano fashion, he swished the bucket right through the net.