“Never afraid to do the dirty work”
Darnell Middleton has never gotten anything by chance. Growing up in the mean streets of Harlem, New York during the 1970’s taught Darnell that hard work and having a never quit toughness will go a long way. Darnell’s late grandmother Ruth also instilled in him that your willingness to do the dirty work will payoff in the long run.

Darnell took those lessons learned early on in life and put them to use on the tough basketball courts of the New York City Public Schools Basketball League. He went on to star at Walton High School helping them to back to back semi-final’s appearances in the City League Championship. Darnell acquired the reputation as a tough rebounder and skilled low post defender. This attracted the attention of Hall of Fame Basketball coach Clarence Bighouse Gaines of Winston-Salem State University, who offered him a scholarship to attend WSSU.

Darnell’s strong desire to let basketball become the spring board to discipline, a college degree, and career opportunities was established early in his collegiate career at Winston-Salem State University. “I wasn’t the leading scorer on my teams nor was I the most skilled, I just let my heart and mental toughness from surviving the tough times in life motivate me to never quit until I out worked my opponents” says Darnell. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology in 1995 he headed back to his roots, New York City. Realizing that giving back to the community was what his heart was yearning for.

He began working with at-risk youth who were in trouble with the court system. It’s this strong commitment to trying to reach out to those hard to reach youth that no one else wants to work with or can’t seem to communicate with. It’s his shared rough beginnings of going in and out of juvenile detention centers that motivates him to work with them. “I believe in youth, in the people of a great tomorrow, and that whatsoever, we sow, the future shall reap. It’s a duty that I feel I have been put here to do, and I find pleasure in seeing young people reach their goals despite their difficult situations”, Darnell says.

Darnell has spent the past 10 years working with young adults in the Winston-Salem and Charlotte North Carolina communities with adjudicated youth as a case manager and mentor. He is currently the Program Director of an Employment and Training program that provides job training and employment services for 16-21 year old young adults.

It’s for certain that any young person that comes in contact with Darnell in any of his roles will learn that nothing comes easy and you don’t just reach your goals by chance.


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