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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

'A voice for the voiceless'
Kiley O’Brien ’25, Assistant Features Editor • July 18, 2024
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Lilli Dellheim '25 M.A., Special to the Hawk • July 13, 2024

Dancing on their own: Locker room anthems on Hawk Hill

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GRAPHIC: GABRIELLA GUZZARDO ’23/THE HAWK

Rashid Bey ’22 arrived on campus in the fall of 1994 unsure of what to expect. A native of Philadelphia, he was the first person in his family to attend college.

At Saint John Neumann High School in South Philly, Bey had had a standout basketball career, years later earning a place in the school’s Varsity Hall of Fame. But in 1994, he was focused on his college career and the spot he’d landed as a guard on the St. Joe’s men’s basketball team.

Bey eventually found a support system in his coaches, teammates and others at the university, while calling on his own ability to adapt to change. 

“I had to learn how to communicate and interact with people that I didn’t know and that I was not accustomed to being around,” Bey said. “It was a huge transformation in my whole development.”

Bey played for the Hawks from 1994-98 under Head Coaches John Griffin and Phil Martelli. He was the first St. Joe’s basketball player to earn the Big 5 MVP for back-to-back seasons in ’97 and ’98. In 2005 he was inducted into the St. Joe’s Men’s Basketball Hall of Fame and in 2011, he was inducted into the Big 5 Hall of Fame.

“He was a person that didn’t say a lot, but what he did say, he meant, and he could back up everything that he said with his play,” Griffin said. “He could lead by example, and I think that was really what impacted the other players on the team.”

It was Bey’s skill on the court that gave him the opportunity to play overseas in 1998. Less than a semester away from graduating, he said he was assured that he would be unenrolled from his current courses and could return to finish them at a later date.

Bey left St. Joe’s in 1998 to play for the BK Inter Bratislava in Slovakia. He continued his career overseas for 12 years, playing in Poland, Switzerland, France, Belgium and Turkey. 

“It wasn’t something that I aspired to do,” Bey said. “It just happened.”

But when Bey returned to St. Joe’s in 2006, instead of having the withdrawals on his transcript that he was promised, he was met with Fs instead.

“I was angry at the whole process,” Bey said. “Instead of just getting over it and getting through it, I was stuck on that.”

Bey stayed stuck for well over a decade. In the years after he returned from overseas, he received multiple coaching job offers that would have allowed him to finish his degree at a different school. But Bey said his anger at the situation and his desire to finish his degree at St. Joe’s prevented him from accepting any of these positions. He tried to return to St. Joe’s to finish his degree three times before finally returning in the summer of 2021.

“I had to be in the right space mentally,” Bey said. “That’s a lesson, too, for people who let anger and maybe small things prevent them from doing something great.”

But Bey also was determined to finish what he had started in 1994.

 “It was something that I always wanted to do, to finish my degree,” Bey said. “And I definitely wanted to do it at St. Joe’s.”

Bey’s decision to return ultimately came down to family. After his grandmother, Alma Bey,  passed away suddenly, it put into perspective how fast life can pass by. Now, his mother, Leslie Atkins, is sick as well and asked him to finish his degree before she passed away, giving him a final push toward completing his studies. 

Soon after his conversation with his mother, Bey ran into current men’s basketball Head Coach, Billy Lange, who also brought up Bey’s unfinished degree. After sharing the promise that Bey made to his mother with him, Lange helped him to take the final steps toward his return to St. Joe’s, with his family – – his mother and his two children, ages 12 and six –- at the forefront of his motivation.

“They’re Team Rashid,” Bey said. “I did not think it would be a big deal after 20-something years to get my degree for everyone, but it turns out that they are so proud.”

Don DiJulia ’67, the St. Joe’s  athletic director during the time Bey played basketball at the university, said he admired how Bey’s desire to complete his degree remained unwavering throughout the process. 

“He committed to his family and himself that he was going to get a college degree,” DiJulia said. “It speaks to a high level of character, which we knew from day one.” 

In the summer of 2022, Bey officially completed his degree in criminal justice from St. Joe’s, which he said has meant more to him than any of his athletic achievements. 

“This thing going back for the last 20 years has been a journey,” Bey said. “I’m glad that I was able to continue this journey where I started, at St. Joe’s.”

Griffin said Bey’s determination to finish his degree matches his style of play. 

“He was never afraid to take a big shot. He was never afraid to make a difference.” Griffin said. “He did anything that was required to help the team succeed.”

With this chapter of his life finally behind him, Bey is looking toward the future to see what he can focus on next. He said he has not thought about whether he will participate in commencement exercises in the spring. For now, he’s focused on his next move.

“I’m trying to put together a youth program for at-risk youth,” Bey said. “We’re going to use sports as a tool to get kids involved, but it’s really going to deal with mental health.”

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