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All Things Henry Coleman, Told By Cynthia Coleman

Photo Courtesy of Reagan Lunn/Duke Athletics

Henry Coleman III, Duke freshman, has already become a fan-favorite in Durham. Coleman, for one, has already shown great leadership qualities, specifically delivering a powerful speech in the peaceful Black Lives Matter protest on campus.

Recently, I had the fortunate opportunity to have a discussion with his mother, Cynthia Coleman about her son, and little inside their family. We talked about his recruiting process, why Duke, how proud she is of her Henry and more down below.

1. First off, I hope you have been staying safe and doing well during this pandemic. On that, how was the moving in process for you guys during these tough times?

“The move in was very smooth and very well-planned. Henry was tested when he arrived. We went to help him set up his room and left after a few hours.”

2. What did Henry and you guys see in Duke that stood out and let to the decision to be a Blue Devil?

“Henry said that Duke reminded him of his high school, Trinity Episcopal. He said it felt right when he was on his visit. We were and continue to be impressed with the fact that Coach K and the other coaches never wavered in their explanations of why they offered him, what they expected from him. That helped us develop a high level of trust with them.”

3. Henry looks to be a hard worker on the court, and even off the court. Can you speak on that?

He has a killer work ethic. It is who he is. My husband Hank and I have never had to push him to practice or do his schoolwork. He is driven and determined never to let anyone outwork him.

4. How important was education in factoring into his decision to come to Duke?

“Education has been important from day 1. As soon as he proved he was a good student, we set high standards based on that. We made it very clear that education comes first and sports second. As long as the grades were good, we supported Henry and his younger brother Leland in everything else they wanted to do.”

5. How was the recruiting process for you guys? Do you think it would’ve been more stressful if he waited until the Spring to announce his choice?

“The recruiting process was fun, overwhelming and humbling. We were overwhelmed with the intense interest from so many schools-what an honor! We tried to take it all in stride and set boundaries around when he talked/texted coaches. That helped tremendously. It was an important part of his high school life but not his entire high school life. Henry told us that he wanted to commit in the fall so he could enjoy his senior year and season. It was the best decision.”

6. Being a UVA grad yourself, what was it like for UVA to be recruiting your son, Henry?

“I was excited that my alma mater recruited him especially following the championship. Hank and I both knew Coach Williford so there was already a strong connection there. We were honored that Coach Bennett and the entire staff came to our house to see Henry. With all the scholarships taken before he made his Top 5, UVa was no longer an option. I will always love my Hoos except for when my first born plays them this year!”

7. Henry has been amazing taking part in the Black Lives Matter movement on campus in his short time at Duke. His speech was incredibly moving. I know you guys are super proud of him. Can you speak on that?

“I’m not sure proud is big enough of a word to describe how we felt about Henry speaking during Duke’s peaceful protest. We were aware of what he read at the gathering b/c he posted it the night before, but to see him get up there and decide to open himself up in that way was incredible. We weren’t so much surprised that he did it b/c Henry has never been afraid to speak his mind.

The support we have received has been incredible! Family, his former teachers, classmates and our friends from college, my friends from law school, our friends from our current and previous jobs and other people have all reached out. So humbling. We’re looking forward to see how Henry continues to contribute to the betterment of our community.”

8. Henry seems to have great leadership qualities. Who has been inspiring him in that facet of his life?

“We have to thank teachers for recognizing Henry’s natural leadership abilities very early on. We can attribute the development of his leadership skills to teachers who encouraged him and didn’t stifle that energy. Too often, that energy gets stifled, but not with Henry.

We are also grateful to a village of friends where he saw strong, hard-working men and women who expected a lot of themselves, their kids and all the kids that were part of that village. Henry knows that he can lean on these people for anything. It really does take a village.”

9. Lastly, what are you looking forward to the most this upcoming season for Henry and Duke?

“I cannot wait to see this team play! They connected to each other during their senior year and have been developing a strong sense of team ever since. They are determined, strong and hard-working. I can’t wait to see what Coach K and the coaching staff does with this combination of high basketball IQ and athleticism. It’s going to be fun!”

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