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Hardy to speak at MLK event

Brookhaven High School Assistant Football Coach Patrick Hardywill be this year’s keynote speaker for Mu Phi Lambda chapter ofAlpha Phi Alpha fraternity’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. programSunday.

The program will be held Sunday at 6 p.m. at the AlexanderJunior High School Auditorium and is open to the public.

Coordinator Vernell Hooker said the program is held each year tocommemorate Dr. King and the principles he stood for. This year,the fraternity considered the importance of reaching young peoplewith the messages King tried to teach, which made Hardy the obviouschoice.

“I’ve heard Patrick speak and I’ve heard of his life,” saidHooker. “He’s a product of a vision that someone has put intohim.”

Hardy said there were several role models who changed the courseof his life.

“Growing up I saw great African-American men involved in thecommunity making sure younger men were doing what they weresupposed to do, and some of them took an interest in me,” he said.”I could have gone the other way and ended up selling drugs orsomething, but they saw something in me I didn’t see at thetime.”

Hardy coaches football and track at Brookhaven High School,which is also his alma mater. He originally dreamed of becoming aU.S. marshal, but was encouraged by several of his mentors to passalong the things he’d learned to help the next generation.

“(Brookhaven Police) Captain Bobby Bell said, ‘Why don’t youthink about teaching, maybe you can inspire some of these youngmen,'” said Hardy. “Capt. Bell stayed on me about it, so I saidyeah, I could do it. Maybe I could still inspire them to stick toit and get their education. “

Hardy attended the University of Mississippi from 1993-1997,where he played football and ran track.

“I just didn’t let any of the hardships in my life affect whereI was going, and what I wanted to do,” said Hardy.