By David L. Bell, Director of Public Relations for The Chambers County School District

VALLEY – According to Cable News Network (CNN), Reggie Dabbs in the nation’s number-one motivational speaker for high school students. On Thursday, he brought his message of hope and encouragement to students at Valley High School, the final stop on a week-long tour across Alabama.


Reggie was born in Tennessee to an unwed teenager who gave him away to a former school teacher by the name of Mrs. Dabbs. She and her husband cared for Reggie as foster parents until he was in the fourth grade, at which time they officially adopted him and gave him the Dabbs name.


“My parents instilled in me strong moral values, for which I am genuinely grateful” said Dabbs. “They also ingrained in me the fact that in every situation I faced, I had a choice. And what I did with those choices was entirely up to me.”


In sixth grade, Reggie began playing the saxophone and hated it. At the insistence of his parents he continued to practice and play. Not until his freshman year at the University of Tennessee did he actually enjoy the instrument, and today, he plays with fervor and expertise.


After introducing himself to students, Reggie launched into a full barrage of interaction with them that included humor and his incredible musical talent. Ramnation had the gymnasium rocking with a sign-along to hit songs by Bruno Mars and other popular recording artists. The entertainment alone would have made for an outstanding assembly program, but Reggie had another purpose for his visit.


“I’m here today because someone in this building is hurting, even to the point that they’ve considered taking their own life,” Dabbs began. “I know what that feels like because I’ve been there myself. Suicide was something I contemplated for several years. But what I kept coming back to was the caring compassion and unconditional love of my parents, and how they would be affected.”


“The hardest thing for me to overcome was the thought that I was unwanted, given away by my birth mother, and not even having a last name until I was in the fourth grade,” Dabbs continued. “I eventually came to the realization that you can never change your past, but you can certainly change your future.”


After graduating college, Reggie began sharing his story through public speaking engagements. It was during one of those occasions when someone asked if he would be interested in addressing a high school assembly. That was in 1987, and since then, Reggie has traveled to high schools across the nation.


“My family and I have committed our lives to make a positive difference in the lives of young people,” said Dabbs. “Today’s generation is facing unparalleled hurts, pressures and choices. If we can heal those hurts, help in times of pressure, and equip students in their choices, we will have better students and a positive school atmosphere.”


Today, Reggie Dabbs lives with his wife Michele and their son Dominic in Fort Myers, Florida.