May 23, 2013 7:50 PM
A Chico State graduate and basketball star is determined to give back.
Damario Sims had an award winning career as a Wildcat, but he's now turning his attention to making a difference in the lives of young people.
Like many childhoods that start in Oakland, Damario Sims' wasn't without obstacles. He lost a number of loved ones who were murdered or put in jail, he says friends cut school, sold drugs and used guns.
But Sims chose a different path and now the first generation college graduate is driven to show the youth they too can lead a positive life.
On the basketball court, Damario Sims, a 2-time All-CCAA conference selection, helped make those around him better.
Off the floor though is where the former Chico State star's best work is yet to come.
After he graduates on Sunday, Sims will start handing out the biggest assists of his life as a foster care case worker for Alternative Family Services in Oakland.
"I'll be working with troubled youth on a time scale basis, getting to know them on a personal level, sharing my story with them and basically helping them out," said Sims.
And so it is that Sims will pack his high tops and set off for his hometown where he knows first-hand how important it is to be a positive influence for at-risk youth.
"I've been shot at, I've been jumped, I've been beat up and the city of Oakland, especially west Oakland, trouble finds you. I feel like if they got somebody like me to look up too, saying 'look he came from the exact same situation,' I could really make a difference," added Sims.
Sims says he faced hardships with his family life as well.
Growing up he didn't have a father figure and he lost his mother to cancer when he was freshman in high school.
Sims says he could have gone down the wrong path, but he credits his uncle and several basketball coaches for steering him in the right direction.
"I feel like I was put here for this purpose, I feel like I went through that situation and was blessed with a basketball talent and an IQ and an intelligence for me to go back to Oakland and have a great understanding of what these kids are going through," said Sims.
Everyone who knows Damario will say they're proud of what he's already accomplished, and while no one truly knows what the future holds, it's a safe bet that Sims's finest work is still ahead.
"He's a real inspiration to everybody, he'll be a real inspiration to the kids in the community and just a tremendous, very charasmatic, very tremendously genuine person and I'm proud of him," said Chico State basketball coach Greg Clink.
In addition to working for the foster care agency, Sims will coach basketball at his former high school, McClymonds.