Oh That's Right, I'm Retired
Posted 17th February 2011
I like being busy and I like it even more when tomorrow plays out different from today. Change and variety in my schedule is refreshing, as long as I stay on track and each day is a step forward toward my goals.
Here's a quick glimpse at the next two weeks. I'm off to Washington DC to help get our children off the couch and outside, being active. Stefanie and I are filming a Public Service Announcement with the First Lady, Michelle Obama, to encourage kids to get in shape.
Next, I'm off to Philly to speak at one of America's finest business school, the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. I'll be interviewed on stage by my friend Bobby Turner, and I plan to talk about the future for high performing charter schools and how we can create more of them in the near term. After that, hello Baltimore, and the Cal Ripkin Sr. Foundation. Cal Jr. is a good friend that is doing great work helping children, especially in the inner cities. Cal and I joined with some other well-known athletes to found Athletes For Hope, which you can read about online. I'll be receiving an award at Cal's event but my true goal is to help him raise funds for his work.
I end the month in my favorite big city, New York. Time to brush off my racket again and hit Madison Square Garden on the 28th for another face-off with Pete Sampras. We've been at this for a long time.
That's my update. I'll be chiming in now and then on Facebook as the month unfolds. I hope your all well, and please check back in, things move fast around here.
03-19-2011, 11:38 PM
New post by Andre on his blog.
Agassi All Stars
Posted 18th March 2011
When you have a basketball team named after you, you really want them to do well. The high school basketball team at Agassi Prep just wrapped up a great season, winning the state championship and having our head coach William Hopkins named Coach of the Year. The players and coaching staff worked so hard all year to compete at the highest levels and represent Agassi Prep with dignity and character.
To celebrate the team’s winning season, a huge parade was held today with our famed drum line leading the team from the elementary school all the way to the gymnasium, with the rest of the six hundred and fifty students and our cheerleaders cheering them on. What a great accomplishment for our hard working players, it is a memory they will keep with them for life.
To close the ceremony, I spoke to the players about their season. I told them that I celebrated their great wins, but more so, that I was proud of how they managed themselves and how they controlled what they could control. Those are the lessons that they can rely upon as they build their future lives.
Also one other thing we’re happy about at Agassi Prep. The Clark County Commission has declared February 26th 2011, Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy Public Appreciation Day.
04-01-2011, 12:10 AM
Posted 23rd March 2011
The debate over education reform in America comes in many shapes and sizes. In some places it is deafening, and looks more like a public brawl. But real reform is already happening, quietly, and with little fanfare. Those making great progress in reform may not always make headlines, but they deserve our recognition. Alma Powell, Colin Powell's wife, is the Chair of America's Promise Alliance, they work with over four hundred national affiliates to improve education and lower the high school dropout rate. The respected Fordham Institute in Ohio is continually doing groundbreaking research with national implications.
Reform is multifaceted, with many voices in the conversation, but it does not always have to be adversarial. Wendy Kopp, and Teach For America, works closely with school districts and charter schools, providing them with talented instructors from America's top learning institutions. The Gates Foundation has partnered with the teachers unions and has recruited thousands of schoolteachers as volunteers for a multi year study. The preliminary results are shedding new light on the issues of teacher training and accountability. Reform will not happen unless we work together.
But let me tell you who deserves our highest recognition and appreciation. It is the hard working, talented, effective teachers in our classrooms across America. One great teacher can shape thousands of young lives over the course of a career. We should all say a collective thank you to teachers that care for and empower our children. I'm thankful for those who have made our children's success, their life's work. I'm thankful for teachers who are true role models for our children, for those that do more than teach, they inspire. Maybe as we all pursue education reform vigorously, we should take a breath, pause, and say thank you to the unsung heroes and the shining lights in the classroom.
This is what we need to keep in mind as we talk about reform. A broken system victimizes great teachers as well as our children. Our system, as it exists, does not reward a successful teacher any differently than an under performing one. It treats the home run hitter the same as the strike out king. We need to create the tools to identify and celebrate the best teachers. Accountability is not an unwelcome word to an over performing teacher, especially if it leads to better tools and higher compensation.
Letís continue the research and the debates. Letís continue to advocate for systemic changes and face the hard realities. Letís confront the truth about education in America even if it stings. But letís not lump all teachers into one group, let's not judge them by their worst and let's not view them all through the same lens. Doing so is disrespectful to the teachers that are thriving and giving their best for our kids, day in and day out.
What a July for my family and me. This year a caravan of friends and family headed east to Newport, Rhode Island to the International Tennis Hall of Fame. It seems that half the tennis world got the memo too. It was a whirlwind of official lunches, informal dinners, lots of mingling with the tennis community, interviews, and some overdue catching up with long time friends. All leading up to the actual induction ceremony, which was a life altering experience.
The Hall of Fame ceremony deserves it's high decorum and tradition, all of which I felt honored to be part of, but spending time with the people, sharing stories, exchanging experiences, that is what made it so beautiful for me. All my former coaches were there, and they revived a string of memories, from being a teenager to becoming the old man of tennis. I am so proud of Simone Ruffin, one of the first graduating seniors from Agassi Prep, who introduced me. Her poise and bubbly spirit never gave away the fact that she was being seen on international television. I was nothing but smiles when they surprised me by having A J Green, also one of our graduates, sing the National Anthem. Also what an honor to go into the hall with my fellow inductee, Peachy Kellmeyer, who has been a behind the scenes champion for women's tennis for decades. The year of me and Peachy, I wouldn't have it any other way.
It was a surreal weekend with lots of laughs, like watching the venerable Bud Collins, racing around town on a scooter, to the intimate times, huddling with my closest circle of friends late at night, every night at the hotel, trying to get our arms around moments like these in life.
I look back now and ask, what is it that makes an experience have lasting meaning? What do we really need to make us feel fulfilled? What life force do we draw on, when we need to push through a challenge? I find, it is always the people that make a thing special, it's 'our people' that empower us.
Our greatest investment, is to build, layer upon layer, trust, loyalty, memories, counsel, and laughter with the ones we love.
Andre Agassi Pays Tribute to His Family and Friends
Read Andre Agassi's personal letters thanking the people who have helped throughout his career both on and off the court. Andre referred to the letters during his International Tennis Hall of Fame induction speech on July 9, 2011, in Newport, Rhode Island. The letters serve as a permanent public tribute to those who made his induction a reality.
It is breathtaking to be on the receiving end of your love...
Thank you for giving me your love so freely, so generously. I can't find the words to describe you, but I will try to find the words to express how you make me feel. I feel empowered; with you I believe anything is possible. I feel valued; you care not only deeply, but in such detail, it's breathtaking to be on the receiving end of your love. I feel protected; you always seem to be one step ahead of life, anticipating its next move and disarming it before it affects me. I don't know how you do what you do, but I rely on it like the air I breathe.
I not only need to be with you, I want to be more like you. To have such honest values, and to live by them with such consistency and grace. To listen so carefully, to feel so purely for others, to put your family ahead of yourself and your own needs.
Thank you for our beautiful children, and for being the family's anchor in our busy lives. Somehow, you make it look so easy.
I said something to you seven years ago at the Hall Of Fame, and it bears repeating again today. In my eyes, and the eyes of your children, you have no rival.
One man with a dream and a fire in his gut can build a foundation that future generations will build their lives on...
It is not flesh and blood, but the heart, which makes us fathers and sons. Dad, how I treasure your heart, filled with desire and passion for your children to experience a better life. I knew it as a child, but it was too big a concept for me to fully grasp, that you loved me more than yourself. You did whatever it took to see us thrive. I look back and respect how you raised four kids and held two jobs and always made time for us. You single handedly engineered a mind set in us, that hard work creates rewards, high standards create fulfillment. Your high standards will change the lives of generations of our family that will follow us. One man with a dream and a fire in his gut can build a foundation that future generations will build their lives on.
I saw many sides of you growing up, but I know they all came from a place of just wanting the best for me and our whole family. I've often come away from a great moment in life, and my first thought was, did I make you proud; today I want you to know, you make me proud. Thank you for this life, it was your creation, and I get to live in it.
There were days that only you could make my world feel right side up...
If ever there was a warm, compassionate and selfless person, who makes the world a better place every day, it is you.
How much I loved to hear your voice on the phone when I was out on tour. How calming it was to sense your quiet strength after competing somewhere across the globe. There were days that only you could make my world feel right side up.
What an example you are to me and your grandchildren. You faced down life’s challenges with never-ending strength and somehow still seemed to love life every day. You are the most unshakable person I know, and one that needs to take the least amount of credit in life. How fortunate all of your children were to grow up in a home where you modeled humility before us.
In my Hall Of Fame speech, I celebrated those who always do the right thing quietly, with no applause; those who shine in secret. The unsung heroes. I don't have to look very far to find my unsung hero, I love you Mom.
If I told people the things we've seen and shared together, they just wouldn't believe it...
How I have counted on you in my life, in ways that you've known and in a million ways that you didn't know. Having you for a big brother has been the equivalent of going through life with a safety net. You were always there when I needed to grasp something just out of reach; you were my constant companion, my defender, my partner in crime, and I never once wondered whether you had my back. I sometimes sit back and relish in the memories from childhood when we shared our souls with each other, and you led the way for me with your words and your actions. To my first years on the road, as we approached this strange and wonderful new life together. And now, raising our families together, watching our children make new memories of their own. If I told people the things we've seen and shared together, they just wouldn't believe it.
So many people have moved in and out of my life, but you are the constant; the one I count on and need, forever by my side, always in my corner. I don't know how you put so many of your dreams aside to make sure mine became reality. But I do know that without you, none of the things I hold dear would be in my life today. There are many things to come in life that I may not know, but one thing I know for sure, we will be there for each other with a bond that only we know, for the rest of our lives. I love you, brother.
How can one man be so strong, and yet so tender? How can a man be of so few words, but overflowing with wisdom?...
When it came time for us to name our son, there was only one choice - Welcome to the world, Jaden Gil. If he grows up to be half the man you are, I will be eternally happy. From working out together at the gym at UNLV, to criss-crossing the globe together for two decades, I still watch you and listen to you in amazement. How can one man be so strong, and yet so tender? How can a man be of so few words, but overflowing with wisdom? What would my life be, if not for you? Unrecognizable.
Gil, my whole adult life played out under the umbrella of your love, inspiration and protection. People will never know the places you've been or the depth of what you've done for me. That’s ok - I know, and I'll never forget. You never pushed from behind, you led by example. You never asked me to do one thing that you didn't require of yourself. You never let your integrity be broken, or even bent, not one time. When I say, I love you, there are so many more words that want to be said. I need you, I owe you, I respect you. How much time do I have? How much space can I take?
You gave me your life, your prime, your very best, year after year after year. I will spend the rest of my years trying to express to you the place you hold in my heart.
You lived and breathed tennis, and created an unparalleled generation of champions...
Thank you for being there for me at the most formative times of my life and career. As an adult looking back, I can't imagine what a handful I must have been. You gave me the space to grow and experiment, you gave me counsel and wisdom. You gave me time to get to know my game and myself. I remember in Washington, DC as a teenager, after a painful loss, I gave away all my rackets and told you I quit. You simply looked at your wrist and said, "Am I wearing a watch"? You gave me permission to grow at my own pace, and your belief in me made me want to go on. Most of all, you provided an umbrella of protection as I fell under the glare of the international spotlight. There were days that I felt it was you and me against the world. I'll never forget that.
I want you to know how much I appreciate the love and devotion you have for tennis. You were up at five in the morning, tirelessly creating the environment that we needed to thrive. You lived and breathed tennis, and created an unparalleled generation of champions. The International Tennis Hall Of Fame will not be complete until you are there alongside all of the champions that you gave to the world; a recognition that you have earned and that you so deserve. When that day comes, you can count on me to be there for you in any capacity, sharing that moment together. I love you, Nick.
You had a deep impact on my hopes and dreams, not just as a player, but also as a person...
What an incredible ride we had together. Could anyone have seen me through? Could anyone have held me together and helped me focus like you? Not even close. From the beginning, you had a deep impact on my hopes and dreams, not just as a player, but also as a person. I was young and impressionable, still growing up and finding my way. Your life became a blueprint of what I wanted for myself and what I came to believe was possible. You have an incredible wife and beautiful children, a loving warm home, and you seemed to enjoy traveling but still enjoy coming home even more. All of that inspired me to find the life that I hoped for. For years I would come up to your house, stay for a week in your cabin, and spy on you and your family. More than once I uttered a quiet prayer to have something so special. That prayer has been answered beyond my dreams.
Your leadership was always at work, teaching me to never settle. You were always so optimistic, so sure of what lies ahead, so confident in me. Regardless of my ebbs and flows on the court that day, you promised better days were coming, and I believed you. You taught me how to win from within and to think for myself. When those better days came, over and over again, I wondered more than once, where did you get that insight? How could you see so far into the future? I will always appreciate your ability to be so plugged in to my emotions, your ability to provide context, and your incredible attention to detail. More so, I appreciate how quickly you would jump to my side and stand shoulder to shoulder when I felt ready to tackle the next challenge.
For a while, I got to live a dream on the court. For a lifetime, I'm getting to live a dream off the court. Brad, none of it would have been possible without you.
Your combination of intelligence and care added years to my career...
You have so many of the qualities in life that I value. I not only appreciate your friendship, but I respect how you carry yourself with such class and how you approach life with such good judgment. I've watched and learned so much from you, like how to balance being a new father and travel the world on the tour. Actually, I can say you taught me balance for all of life, a lesson that pays me dividends every single day. You managed my reduced schedule in the final years so delicately, and you taught me so many short cuts to keep an aging body competitive, long after it wanted to give out. I'm convinced that your combination of intelligence and care added years to my career.
You should know just how much I treasure the bond between you and I, and between our families. Our children are best friends, and you and Victoria have been a joy to be around. You live so consistently, practical and drama free; all the things that make me thankful that we got to spend so much time together. When I think of that quality that you possess, of having such impeccable standards on and off the court, it is not surprising that the game and its players have embraced you so deeply.
Thanks for being perceptive enough to know just when I needed to push, and just when it was time for me to go home. Thank you even more for your loyalty. Stefanie, myself, Jaden and Jazz love you and are so fortunate to have you and your family in our lives.
My friend; my traveling companion; my business ally. My lifesaver. Although I've known you since I was a teenager, you came into my life full time right when I needed you most. I want the world to know how much you mean to me, my Foundation, and my future. You took the helm of my Foundation, and not only gave it new life and new direction; you donated your entire salary back to it, working for free. You never intended the world to know that, but I want them to know what kind of heart you have.
I feel so safe and so protected with you guiding my business. Integrity and honesty is your north star and you've done something I never thought possible, you make business fun for me. You have had to navigate some delicate waters since you came aboard, but you've proved your expertise at every turn. You mean the world to me. My family and I, down to my children's children, owe you a debt we can never repay.
You live with such clarity, stability and extreme loyalty that I trust your judgment on every level...
You define what true friendship means to me. I think about who you are, what is embedded in your DNA, and it makes me feel selfish because every one should have someone like you in their life. Everyone should be so lucky to have a Ronnie.
You carry other people's burdens; you only want to add to the lives of others. You live with such clarity, stability and extreme loyalty that I trust your judgment on every level. How thankful I am for you. There is such a bond between us that is unshakable, please know that I will be there for you as a friend, as a brother, for life.
What is unspoken between us every day I'll say here proudly to the world, there will never be a closer friend than you.
2012. It’s A Wrap.
Posted 24th December 2012
I’ve noticed a few things with each year that passes. Life requires an ever deeper intensity from us, the highs and lows of life seem to be more extreme and most of all, it all comes and goes so very fast. I thought I would use this space to give a few of my own takeaways from this year, and to share my hopes for 2013.
How quickly this year has gone. My children are growing at an exciting but unsettling pace. Weren’t they just five years old and three? Now they’re on the cusp of becoming young adults. In no time, they’re off to college and beyond. All the markers that I use to measure time make me feel like we’re not just pointed toward the future; we’re rushing headlong into it. Our Foundation turns 19 next year and in 2013 Agassi Prep will celebrate our 12th year in Las Vegas. Moving that first shovel of dirt for our school campus seems like yesterday…not a lifetime ago. Slow down, embrace life, treasure the moment.
The faster life seems to come at us; it reinforces to me how much we need to make each day count for something. To know that we’re portioning our time in ways that reflect our deepest values. It may be calling someone to celebrate a milestone in their life, being personally involved in the life of someone who is ill, or making time for a meaningful conversation to let someone know that they are understood in a challenging time. How easy it is to overlook these things when we have so many responsibilities, deadlines and hourly pressures.
The last weeks and days of the year always seem to intensify our emotions, and remind us, for better or worse, the things we’ve been through. Our joys and our disappointments always feel more exposed and pronounced during the holidays. So hold on tight to the people you love and the things you believe in and know are true. These are the anchors in our lives that we can always rely on, and they’ll sustain us everyday throughout the year.
We’re just about to come out of the starting gate of a new year, and I believe if we choose well, in our attitude, in our priorities and in our use of time…that we can find a deeper peace, create a bigger impact and make a more profound mark on the coming year. Here’s to believing that our best years, and the best of life, is ahead.