We are excited to welcome a very well-known name that embraces the true meaning of success no matter which career you choose. Winston-Salem, NC native Rusty LaRue began his prolific multi-sport athletic career at 6-years-old and by the time he was in high school at Northwest Guilford High School he began to grab the attention of the school’s baseball, basketball, and football programs. In fact, by his senior year LaRue was named North Carolina Athlete of the Year.
While this incredibly talented young man had his choice of colleges to offer his athletic ability to, his desire to get a good education while also focusing on expanding his athletic aptitude led LaRue to Wake Forest University. Quickly making a name for himself, LaRue also become one of the first athletes since 1952 and just the second in ACC history to compete in football, basketball, and baseball in the same academic year. This would not be the only way that LaRue would set records at Wake Forest. After becoming a four-year letterman quarterback during the early 90’s, this born competitor also became a part of the Demon Deacon’s back-to-back ACC championship basketball teams and even played in four NCAA tournaments. While his baseball career might not have earned him as much attention, LaRue’s impressive basketball skills would eventually lead him to the NBA, where he played with the Chicago Bulls, Utah Jazz as well as the Golden State Warriors.
“The truth is I came from an athletic family and I had a father who pushed me to perform no matter how hard I had to work,” said LaRue. “Despite the fact that much of his pushing was on the field or on the court, he also pressed me to be successful in life and this actually helped me to realize that I wanted to get a good education outside of sports too because the truth is the basketball does stop bouncing for everyone eventually.”
While this truth is hard to admit for many professional athletes, knowing this early on helped LaRue focus on using his athletic ability to purse what he calls most important – “a good education.”
“Although I loved being an athlete growing up, my whole goal in high school was to get a scholarship at a prestigious college so that I could get a good education outside of athletics,” said LaRue. “The truth is, I knew that I wanted to be successful no matter where my career led me, even if it meant this would be outside of sports.”
Just as this multi-sport athlete predicted, his basketball playing days would come to an end in 2004 and while this may mean full retirement or a sports broadcasting career for some athletes, LaRue’s college education as well as the education that he received on court led to the next step in his career.
“The funny thing is when I was coming to the end of my athletic career, I never saw myself coaching,” said LaRue. “I actually majored in business and technology and thought that I would go in that direction, but after being given the opportunity to coach and educate up-and-coming young athletes like myself in the Piedmont Triad area I could not pass this up.”
After sharing his love and knowledge for the sport of basketball with students at Greensboro College, Forsyth Country Day School and even at his alma mater, Wake Forest University, LaRue would even start his own basketball academy where he offered basketball camps, classes, and leagues to some of the youngest rising basketball stars in the area.
While LaRue enjoyed sharing his extensive knowledge and passion for basketball with his fellow young dreamers out there, at the age of 40-years-old the man who says he enjoys a learning challenge felt his career moving in a new direction.
“When I decided that I was finished coaching, I knew that I wanted to lean on my business education to go in a new direction,” said LaRue. “After starting to investigate new opportunities like financial management, I eventually met the owner of Dairi-O Restaurants at a men’s breakfast and before long I was given the opportunity to become an Owner and Operator and now after three years, I am now being given the chance to become the Chief Operations Officer of all eight locations throughout the Triad area.”
As this born to be athlete and now entrepreneur continues to climb the ladder of success, LaRue says that he could not have gotten anywhere without an education.
“I always say that there are two types of education, both a real-world education as well as a book education,” said LaRue. “All of the education that I received by the experiences that I have had both as an athlete as well as an entrepreneur along with the school-based instruction has led me to where I am today, and I am so grateful that there are organizations like Say Yes Guilford that can do the same for others like me.”
We thank Rusty LaRue for sharing his success story and look forward to bringing you more stories like his far into the future.