Chat Room - Loren Riddick

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By Lance Coleman

Loren Riddick is a 1987 William Blount High School graduate and basketball standout. The 38-year-old played basketball at East Tennessee State University where he graduated in 1992.

He and his wife, the former Missi Wallace of Morristown, have one son, 10-year-old Tucker. They have another child due in May.

At ETSU, he was the first walk-on player to make varsity in the nine years prior to him joining the team.

"Mainly guarded the bench," Loren said. "We were ranked ninth in the nation. I got to go to the NCAA tournament, and eight of the 12 players went on to pro careers, including two of them who went to the Harlem Globetrotters and one who went into the NBA."

While he makes his living working as a senior loan officer with United Capital Mortgage, his passion is on the basketball court working with youngsters. "I think the first thing I try to tell kids is, you use basketball, don’t let it use you." Often teens and young adults go through school and college playing basketball, but don’t learn, earn decent grads or get a degree. "By the time basketball is done with them, it’s really done with them," he says. "I hate to see 21- and 22-year-old basketball players leaving college, and they feel it’s the end of their life."

In the summer of 1999, he and some friends began running a free Stars of Tomorrow basketball camp for youth. They’ve done the camp each year except one since then.While there is no admission for the camp, it is not without a personal cost to the players. "I wanted to give back to the kids," he says. "They have to promise to do a good deed. That’s what they pay. We work with 100 to 120 kids a year," he says.

Here is Loren Riddick:

When you were 5 years old, what did you want to be when you grew up?
"I wanted to be a basketball player and coach like my father, Jim Riddick. My dad was a key member of the 1959 State Champs at Alcoa and later taught and coached over 30 years in the county system.

What was your most embarrassing moment?
"Probably when I was 9 years old, my dad Jim Riddick came to watch my first basketball game. I made a great rebound and scored. The only problem was that is was the wrong basket."

Why did you pursue the career you chose?
Riddick considers himself as having two careers: coach and mortgage lender. He says regarding his work as a youth basketball coach that after his playing days were over, he realized how much the game meant to him and how important it was to pass on that knowledge.

Regarding his work in the mortgage arena, Riddick says he got into the business by chance or grace of God after spending six years in the auto finance and sales industry.

"A former business partner made the move to the mortgage arena and was able to be off on weekends. I held my breath, took the leap and it was the greatest move that I’ve made to date."

What is one word others often use to describe you and why?
"Workaholic. I always seem to be on the phone, working late, and handling a lot on my plate."

What was your first paying job?
Riddick says his first paying job was shoveling manure and putting hay in the barn for his dad. "To this day, for him is the only reason why I will do it."

What’s the best thing about Blount County?
"Having the opportunity to travel and see many places gives me a lot to compare, but without a doubt, Blount County is the best place on the earth. The people, we have the best folks on the planet. Secondly, the great location. We have is a front row seat to the best in creation that God has to offer. I have had the pleasure of being a Blount County resident since 9 months before my birth and my family has roots dating as far back as John Oliver, my great, great grandfather, and the Oliver cabin in the Cades Cove loop.

What is your passion?
"Without a doubt, it is passing on my knowledge and experience of the game of basketball to kids. Many times I will find myself walking up to a kid shooting baskets and start working with them. Our Stars of Tomorrow Basketball Camp touches so many kids that it allows me to share with them and hopefully share some life tools that will help them be productive in life as well as basketball."

To what do you attribute your success?
"The absolute credit is God’s blessing and the example of two grandfather’s who put in more than 72 years in the ALCOA pot rooms, and two parents who gave me all the foundation, love, and guidance that anyone could hope for."

With whom, living or dead, would you most like to have a long lunch?
"Probably my memaw, Lucille Riddick and uncle, Quevon Riddick. Cancer took both of them from us."

What do you hate?
"I love and respect all folks as my brothers and sisters, however, I can’t stand "stuck up attitudes" and all that they bring with it. Whether a person is a ditch digger and rents an apartment or a corporate executive on Wall Street in a $1 million home, as long as they have a good heart, work ethic and integrity, that’s all that matters."

What is your dream vacation?
"Without a doubt, the best one would be going back to Maui in Hawaii and spending a long time hanging out, watching the whales, going to the volcanoes, and taking the road to Hana ‘Safari style.’"

What is your favorite toy?
"I would say basketball, but I don’t want to be boring, so I guess my all-time favorite toy would be either my full-edition of the Star Trek crew from the Captain Kirk days or my Evel Knieval stunt cycle from the same era."

What’s your favorite quote?
"I need to give three quick ones, "The cream always comes to the top.’ ‘The road to success leads right through the dump.’ And, ‘you can’t make an eagle out of a duck."

What do you do to relax or for fun?
"I shoot basketball with area kids and play with my wife, son, and miniature black schnauzer, Coal, at home. We also love to snow ski as a family."

What is your all-time favorite movie?
"I have a lot of them, probably the "Rocky" movies. They showed the tremendous spirit of the human heart to compete and go against all odds. Life is a lot this way."

Would you travel in space?
"Yes, but I would be scared to death. I always wanted to go there as a kid."

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