Mississippi Deaf basketball coach Sekoe White honored by Kobe Bryant in appearance on “Rachael Ray” show


Sekoe White, a Deaf basketball coach for the Mississippi School for the Deaf, was on the Rachael Ray show on Friday where he was recognized for his leadership. He got a surprise video from his players and from Kobe Bryant. 

The Daily Moth reached out to White for an interview.

White: Hello! 

Alex: White was in a viral video last fall where he was filmed giving a pep talk during a game. He told Rachael Ray that at first he didn’t think it was a big deal because he was simply doing his job, but that he realized that he made an impact on others. 

White: What was the impact on me? I typically focus on my area. I do the same thing daily . So when I’m focused, I feel like it’s normal to me. But when I think out of the box, I look and I see that it might “not be normal to them.” Ah. I see that I still have an accountability to educate, even though I feel like now, we are in a perfect world, that everything is settled, we are all equal. But no. 

Alex: White was honored on the show with videos of his players and co-workers sharing what kind of impact he had on them. I asked him how it made him feel. 

White: Honestly, in that moment, I felt more than a million dollars. Money is just an object, but the kids’ inspiration is my million dollars. I was so inspired. I felt good that the kids learned something. That’s what I treasure. I was inspired. 

Alex: I asked him what did it feel like to see Kobe talking to him. 

White: You know, he is my childhood idol, but now that I am an adult, the way he spoke really touched me. I felt he really respect what I do. My favorite part was when he said, I understand that you are big fan, but the truth is that you are a leader and an inspiration. It was nice to hear that from a favorite player. I’ve always loved Kobe growing up, from my youth up to now. His talents, his mentality. And now he said this directly to me. Wow. Very inspiring. It’s made an impact on my personality, my character, my thinking, my perspective. On what I want to do with my future. I want to do something bigger for our community and Deaf children as well. I was inspired. I feel confident. You know sometimes I’m unsure, even though I am doing good, but his comments has made me ready to take it to the next level. 

Alex: I asked him to share his thoughts on the importance of being a role model to others and on working at Mississippi School for the Deaf. 

White: Growing up, I had good leaders in my life for sure. I grew up at Kentucky School for the Deaf. I had wonderful leaders, yes, but they were white. I also graduated from a public school. I had great interaction with Black people, my culture, but they weren’t Deaf and didn’t understand. So I was stuck, with a “win and a loss” on both sides. That gave me a mindset to inspire my Black Deaf children. I want that, I’m focused on that. After Gallaudet and semipro, Mississippi made an offer. Also it was God’s calling for me to go to Mississippi. Honestly in many ways I never thought I would end up working at MSD. But I was placed there and I grew fast. Many good things happened. I feel I’m in the right place. When I started coaching, as soon as I looked at my boys who I coached, I had many flashbacks of myself when I was young with my struggles and setbacks, things that they have that I didn’t have. So now I feel I’m the perfect person because I am Deaf and Black. It’s a double impact that I can give, the knowledge, I can relate to them, I can understand what they have to go through, their pain, I can relate. The kids can look up and set goals. Why do I work at Mississippi? Because it’s a fit and I want to support smaller schools. They can surprise anybody. There are several (students) that have gone to Gallaudet and accomplished wonderful things. They deserve that kind of attention. I want to raise their profile, as opposed to other big schools. Mississippi isn’t the only one, it is other southern schools, I’m speaking for the others as well. There is a lot of hidden talent, not only for sports, but for education or leadership abilities. I want to open it up and encourage them. We are only one Deaf community. If we represent the Deaf community, we should think of all, not just “them,” if you know what I mean. That’s why I work for the Mississippi School for the Deaf. 

Alex: Thank you for your time, Sekoe White, and congratulations on your recognition. His MSD team won the 2019 Mason-Dixon championship.