Here's A Story You Don't Often Hear : News & Views Tony Cox weighs in on today's roundtable.
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Here's A Story You Don't Often Hear

Tony Cox (left) and Kevin Figgers (right) photographed at the studios of NPR West. Bettina Wiesenthal-Birch, NPR hide caption

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Bettina Wiesenthal-Birch, NPR

After today's Sports Bloggers Roundtable, the producers were all teasing me as I walked from the studio back to my office. That's because I had the biggest grin on my face.

Kevin Figgers put it there.

I invited Kevin to be on the show with me because I believe in him, and I know that sports is his first love and that he would step up, if just given the opportunity. Boy, did he step up. He was poised, prepared, funny, personable and professional.

When's the last time you read or saw the media describe a 19-20 year old black male in those terms who wasn't an athlete?

Kevin graduated from an inner-city high school in Los Angeles in 2005, escaping gang violence, low test scores and low expectations. He's studying broadcast journalism at California State University, Los Angeles and lives at home. You might not even notice him in a room full of people, he's so quiet. But not today.

Kevin is one of my students, and the first one I'd ever dared to bring on the air with me. Student-professor relationships can often be tricky, and ought to be handled with care. After all, this wasn't a classroom assignment or school project.

This is where I work. I take it seriously and am trying to teach that responsibility to students like Kevin. He was excited about the invitation and jumped at the chance to be on the radio. And he was wonderful. Listen to him, if you get the chance, and judge for yourself. Today was proof that some of our young black men are listening to us, and they deserve an opportunity.

I was proud.