Bobby Acklin may have grown up poor, but that hasn’t stopped him from living a rich life.
A former standout at Mayflower and Hendrix, Acklin has had his success on the playing field and in the professional realm. Now an assistant superintendent for desegregation and student services in the North Little Rock School District, Acklin is far from poor, as his journey has taken him from Mayflower to a few years of coaching and several in administrative positions.
But he hasn’t forgotten where it all started.
"I come from a poor black family," Acklin told the Arkansas Sports Club on Monday, referring to the 1979 Steve Martin movie "The Jerk", at their monthly meeting at Ryan’s Steakhouse. "Actually, I come from a po’ black family."
That didn’t stop him from enjoying his life at home.
"I was grown before I realized how poor we really were because of the closeness of our family and how much we enjoyed being around each other," Acklin said.
But it took a little help to get Acklin to where he is today. He recalled various people in his life that helped pave the way.
"It’s not what you know. It’s who you know," Acklin said. "... I know I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing if it wasn’t the support of several people in my life."
One of the first people outside of Acklin’s family to have a significant impact was former Mayflower basketball coach Larry Pat Rose.
"Coach Rose was like a father to us," Acklin said. "He made us believe we had value and could do something with our lives."
Acklin did plenty with his life on the court during his time at Mayflower. His basketball skills drew the attention of several college coaches.
After toying with the idea of going to either Henderson State or Ouachita Baptist, Acklin finally settled on playing for coach Cliff Garrison at Hendrix, where Acklin was selected as an All-Arkansas Intercollegiate Conference performer in 1978 and 1979.
But it wasn’t necessarily easy.
Acklin recounted how Garrison would make his players do a great deal of running even before there was any actual basketball work done.
"The first day (of practice), it seemed like it was track or something," Acklin said. "Coach Garrison timed us in the mile. I neveral ran a mile in my life. ... I didn’t think we were ever going to get to basketball."
The Warriors finally did, but Acklin was on the bench the first seven games of the season. Then he finally got his chance.
"I finally got in and started," Acklin said. "I scored 24 points that game. Coach Garrison didn’t want to take out his seniors, but after I hit 24 points, I think he had to rethink that a little."
During his time at Hendrix, Acklin got to know Garrison well. Acklin began to develop an appreciation for Garrison and credits the former coach for part of his success in life.
"I’m thankful I crossed paths with coach Cliff Garrison," Acklins aid. "He’s more than a basketball coach."
Acklin later went on to coach ninth-grade basketball a East Junior High in West Memphis after Dr. Bob Courtway helped drive Acklin for an interview and even put in a good word for him. Acklin coached four years at the middle school in West Memphis before getting a junior high job in Conway.
However, that was quickly done away with, as Acklin began pursuing administrative jobs. Some of those were made possible with help from Courtway.
But whether its former coaches, family members or a variety of other people in his life, Acklin said he is thankful for what many people have meant to him.
"They helped shape me into what I’ve become, and I appreciate them so much," Acklin said.