The Big Man with a Big Heart

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For many of us, the path through life is not a clear cut one. It is filled with twists and turns, stops and starts.  Such is the case for Gilbert Talbot.  If you have ever been to a Generals game and seen number 15 play basketball, you would think he had been playing his entire life. In truth, it wasn’t until his freshman year in high school that he first stepped foot onto the hardwood, and only then because the team needed a big man to play. At 6’10”, he certainly fit the bill.  Gilbert readily admits he was “pretty terrible”. But a coach who saw potential in him, took an interest coaching him up.

 

In Gilbert’s hometown of Houma, Ellender Memorial High School is known for its outstanding basketball program.  During the summer of his freshman year, with his newfound interest, Gilbert transferred to Ellender and began playing basketball as a sophomore.  He continued to play until he graduated.  Upon graduation, he enrolled in Louisiana Tech in the hopes of continuing his basketball career.  The program was not a good fit for him, and he soon realized after being out of basketball a full year that it was not the kind of life he wanted to live.  The bounce of the ball had snared him, and he wanted it back in his life.  When the newly hired head coach for LSUA, Larry Cordaro, learned that Gilbert was considering transferring, he approached him about joining a team that he was building from the ground up. Initially, Gilbert didn’t want to transfer, because he mistakenly believed that because it wasn’t a D1 program, it wasn’t where he needed to be.  During the summer of his freshman year, after much soul searching, Gilbert called Coach Cordaro and told him he didn’t care what the facilities looked like, he didn’t care if they had to play outside, he just needed a chance to be a part of a team.  Coach Cordaro and the LSUA Generals welcomed him with open arms.  They didn’t shy away, enthusiastically offering a second chance at a basketball life.  The coaching staff invested time, and they were tough on him.  In the process, they not only shaped his basketball career, they helped to shape the man he is today.

 

Gilbert’s parents, Gilbert and Debbie Talbot, deserve much of the credit for his success.  Some of the decisions Gilbert made growing up didn’t make parenting him easy.  Yet they stood by him, made sacrifices for him, believed in him when he didn’t believe in himself, and offered unwavering support.  While he realizes he made mistakes, Gilbert doesn’t regret his path because he knows the journey has made him who he is.  And who he is, is a big man with a big heart that would give anyone anything he has, no questions asked or judgments cast.

 

Last month, Gilbert’s parents, coaches, teammates, family and friends watched proudly as he walked down the aisle in cap and gown, holding his college diploma.  It has been a winding, sometimes uncertain road, but Gilbert feels he is finally on the path that was laid out for him.  During one of the Generals games against Jarvis Christian College, a young man by the name of Prescott Mack was in attendance to watch one of his relatives that played for Jarvis.  Yet, his eye was drawn to the big man that wore number 15 for the Generals.  As fate would have it, Prescott Mack is the CEO of Mack Sports Group, a sports management and consulting firm located in Dallas.  After the Conference Finals, Prescott reached out to Gilbert and requested a meeting.  At that meeting, Gilbert met a young man with passion and energy, and he immediately felt at ease.  On May 11th, the day after graduation, Gilbert signed a contract with Mack Sports Group to begin his professional basketball career.

 

During his time as a General, Gilbert averaged 10.4 points per game.  He was named All Red River Athletic Conference 1st team 2016-17 as well as Conference Tournament Co-MVP.  He was named Red River Athletic Conference Player of the week December 4, 2015 and again February 6, 2017.  The NAIA also named him Player of the Week February 7, 2017.  Gilbert would like to thank everyone in Alexandria for all of the support and love they have shown him.   It has been an unbelievable two years, and he wishes it could have been two more.  As the road takes another turn, this time likely leading overseas to a basketball court, those of us fortunate enough to have crossed paths with Gilbert Talbot will watch proudly as the big man with a big heart lives out his dream.