Meet Sky Hyacinthe, our Professional of the month! Every month we highlight a Black professional in the Greater New Orleans area. Learn more about this former University of Connecticut basketball point guard who created Elevate New Orleans, an athletic leadership program after spending time with a group of young athletes in the Ninth Ward, while visiting college teammate and former Pelicans player, Emeka Okafor.

Sky is a former Division 1 basketball player whose last stop was at the University of Connecticut. At UConn, he learned the game at the highest level among world-class competition. In high school, he was a top 40 player in the state of Connecticut and the top defensive guard in his class, averaging 7.5 steals per game. Sky has trained with current NBA stars, including Emeka Okafor and Ben Gordon. Sky dedicates his time through Elevate‘s Leadership Program that provides a daily mix of athletic, academic and social development activities on an individual and small group basis. He enjoys teaching basketball to students of all ages including elementary school through college, passing on the knowledge he has accumulated throughout his career.

Name: Sky Hyacinthe
Occupation: Executive Director, Elevate New Orleans
Hometown: Bronx, New York
Single or Take: Single
Age: 33
 
Q: What inspires you to wake up everyday and go to work? 
 
The opportunity to give somebody else a chance. Growing up in the Bronx, I was always told that I dreamt too big. I wanted to play college basketball on a Division 1 level. I wanted to travel the world. I’ve always aspired to carry out so many things. Whatever goal, I always do it. I’ll actually recite my goal, just so now I have a reason to go and carry it out. But to answer your question, I wake up and think about the kids we have in this program and to see how far they’ve matured over the last few years and where we’re going and the opportunity to make a huge difference not only in the classroom and the basketball court, but these kids can potentially now be a senator or a pharmacist. We’re giving them the opportunity to do that. That’s what keeps me driving.
 
Q: Explain the organization and your day-to-day.
 
I can go from sponsorship meetings to being on the court training with the kids to sometimes being their taxi driver. Eric Gordon hosted an event, so my kids piled in my car and I drove them to the event. My true focus is building the organization’s brand recognition in New Orleans. Secondly, finding resources for the organization. Lastly, making sure the operations on a day-to-day basis run exactly as I would hope for them to run. Whether it’s making sure the academic tutors are making sure the kids get their school work done or athletic coordinators making sure that the basketball skills developed properly. We had a young woman who is in the 9th grade receive an offer from a Division 1 school last week.
 
Q: Is that normal?
 
No that’s abnormal, but it’s becoming normal for our program. Normally you don’t get an offer until your junior year of high school. Our kids are receiving offers as freshman in high school.
 
Q: What is your biggest challenge professionally?
 
One of my biggest challenges is networking and the opportunity to meet the right type of people with the right intentions and making sure I grow strong relations in the community. I want to know exactly what the community sees us as, whether it is a basketball program, a tutoring program or something more holistic. This program is not like any other program and because of the lack of my network ability, the funding just isn’t there.
 
Q: Where were you at 21? What career advice do you have for other professionals? 
 
I was at UConn playing basketball. My advice would be to allow life to happen. I wasn’t the most modest 21 year-old, but after establishing this program that focuses on others, it allows me to see that the world is bigger than me. Being able to give back to these kids has made me richer in a sense.
 
Q: Is there a quote or a verse that pushes you?
 
“If you want things you’ve never had before, you have to do things you’ve never done before.”
 
Q: If you didn’t have to work, what would you be doing?
 
I would be doing this! I love kids, I love basketball and I love helping others be better than they are today and that’s what Elevate is all about.
 
Q: What’s on your desk?
 
My laptop.
 
Q: That’s it?
 
I’m a minimalist. You won’t catch birthday cards on my desk. I’m very private.
 
Q: Is there anything you’d like to leave. Any advice?
 
Don’t follow the money. At the end of the day, you want to wake up and be happy about what you do, right? As a professional, many focus on the next promotion, but what is your legacy? We’ve sent 13 out of 13 kids to college on scholarships. If I die tomorrow, those kids will remember the effects I had on their lives.
 
Q: Your favorite restaurant in New Orleans?
 
Amici, 218 Magazine Street, New Orleans, LA 70115
 

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