Damyean Dotson and Joseph Young have always led by example. Since the day they first set foot in Jack Yates High School, Dotson and Young have served as role models in the Houston community. Using their talents on the hardwood as well as their efforts in the classroom, Dotson and Young have epitomized what it means to represent a proud line of Yates alumni. Despite the 2,404 miles that now separate them from their alma mater, the two have continued to embrace this role together on a nationally recognized Oregon program.
“On a day after the Oregon game, folks coming down the halls, teachers checking in, everyone’s discussing: ‘Did you see Joe lit it up?’ or ‘Did you see Damyean?’ so everyone is watching,” Bob Doolie, a graduate and college guidance administrator at Yates for 10 years said. “I try to follow every game. We’re still tracking those guys and everyone around here is now an Oregon fan.”
Two years were all that separated Dotson and Young when attending Yates. Both were highly touted prospects in their high school days and gained a plethora of national recognition, which included multiple state titles under Young. Though the two never set foot on the court together until arriving at Oregon, this time period at Yates was the beginning of their eventual impact as leaders both on and off the court.
“They’ve done a lot for the community,” Maurice McGowan, long-time Yates football coach, who knew Michael Young (Joseph’s dad) and helped mentor both Dotson and Young at Yates said. “Being national champions first of all meant a lot to the community, especially for a small Afro-American community. Every summer or whenever they come in for a break, they come over to Yates, they all get together, they help the youngsters out, teach them stuff they’ve learned in college. They’re both great young men.”
Giving back to the community has always been a top priority for the two and it has helped them sustain a healthy bond with the very place that birthed their careers.
“To me, it means a lot, it’s where it all started,” Dotson said. “I’m an alum and just playing for Yates is a big deal. It’s real important (giving back) because I think that we can help them produce. If I tell them something, I believe they’ll listen to me because I guess they look up to me.”
As Dotson and Young have grown in their maturity, so has their connection with the people they most care about. The two have continually been first class players on the court, but their contributions off the court have been unparalleled.
“There are some young Damyean’s and Joseph’s in this building,” Doolie said. “They need to be seen, they need to be able to touch them. That’s very important because they did it the right way. Neither had the big head, they took care of it on the court, they also did it off the court. It’s important that’s passed down. I can sit up and preach, but coming from a Damyean Dotson, who made the NCAA playoffs, has a much bigger impact because he’s going to class at Oregon. So, I feel it’s extremely important.”
From visits to the Yates hallways during break to giving talks in the locker room during halftime, both Dotson and Young have continually gone out of their way to stay in the loop in the Yates community.
“If they walked into the building today, folks would stop,” Doolie said. “That’s just how they were. We’re very proud of their accomplishments, but we know it’s more to them than basketball. Giving back, that’s part of who they are.”
In addition to gaining a forever-grateful fan base, Dotson and Young have exemplified a Yates tradition that has been in line since its beginnings.
“Real proud of what both of them are doing in terms of representing the school and community,” Coach Greg Wise, who coached both Dotson and Young at Yates, said. “They’re a whole bunch of people out here that are pulling for them.”
In the eyes of the Yates community, Dotson and Young are among the most notable alumni, not just for their national accolades, but for their priceless contributions to the next generation of Yates athletes.
The pursuance of staying true to their roots has naturally translated onto the court for Dotson and Young as well. In both their growth as people and players, the two have benefited from the humbling experience that is giving back, and they said it has been an underlying reason for the current and future success.
“I feel like I’ve become a better leader in a way and if they need something and ask me, I can tell them,” Dotson said. “Every time I go home, I got to go to Yates.”
Not everyone chooses to serve as a spokesman for their community, but Dotson and Young have simply shown their gratitude to a place they call home.
“It’s important to me because that’s where I started at,” Young said. “Just to give back to my high school and my city, it’s just a good thing to have under your belt and then you have someone by your side. It’s just great to be a role model. I always wanted to be a role model for kids because I only had one role model and that was my father and I wanted other kids that don’t have a father like mine, I wanted to just spread the works in.”
As Dotson and Young look forward to finishing out their collegiate careers at Oregon, they can also be proud of the legacy they will surely leave behind. It isn’t everyday that athletes can play both the role of a player and community leader, but Dotson and Young have embraced it.
“That’s my goal to be a good role model in Eugene and the Houston community,” Young said. “I’ve only been here for one year, but the support people give me right now, really truly blessed to have that, but it all comes from my team.”
Whether they realize it or not, their names will be remembered long past the banners and trophies. Not only for their game winners and career-highs, but also for their everlasting impact outside the gym.
Follow Hayden Kim on Twitter @HayDayKim