Standing at 6 feet 9 inches tall, Lawrence Funderburke is a giant in both physical stature and inspiration. The former Ohio State power forward and Columbus native came from poverty, only to rise to prominence through hard work and a belief in a better future. After over a decade of playing professional basketball in the NBA and Europe, he has come back to Columbus to inspire and teach children through the Lawrence Funderburke Youth Organization.
“I made a promise to God that if I was ever in a prominent influential position, I would give back,” says Funderburke. “Learning the value of education really prepared me for where I am today: seeing kids who are growing up just like I did and showing them there’s a better way and a better life.”
Growing up on the West Side in a single-parent home and relying on welfare wasn’t easy for his family. “I tell kids today that we got two or three hundred dollars from the government a month and that was it,” he says. He remembers that he got through it all by knowing tomorrow would be better if he stayed on track.
His organization, at its core, teaches financial literacy and the basics of personal finance, but stresses the importance of education. Through mentors and speakers from the Columbus community, he helps disadvantaged youth realize they can rise above their obstacles and be lucrative and successful in any career field.
In order to further his education, Funderburke recently completed his MBA through the University of Phoenix. “I think if you preach education, you should have an education to back it up,” he confirms. “That’s what I’ve tried to base my whole life on—practicing what I preach.”
For more info on the Lawrence Funderburke Youth Origination go to www.lfyo.org