How Are You Forever Duke? Grant Hill

Writer: 
May 15, 2013


Sterly Wilder ’83, associate vice president for alumni affairs, talks with NBA star (and former Duke basketball standout) Grant Hill ’94, who now plays for the Los Angeles Clippers.

SW: I was your pre-major adviser, and we met the first day you were on campus. Do you remember whether I gave you a hard time?

Credit: Barry Gossage

GH: I probably gave you the harder time. But if there was any nervousness on my part as a new student, you made me feel comfortable. I don’t know whether I ever officially thanked you for the time we went shopping to furnish my apartment. Getting my first off-campus apartment was a big deal.

SW: As a student, how much did you know about the alumni association?

GH: I didn’t realize how organized the alumni association was—how much coordinating activity went into planning events and activities around the world. But I certainly saw intersections between student life and alumni happenings on campus, particularly around Homecoming.

SW: What’s the greatest lesson you took from your undergraduate experience?

GH: Duke expects the best from you in a lot of ways, certainly in the classroom. And for me as a student-athlete, of course, there was a commitment to excellence with life outside the classroom, as well. There were a lot of obstacles and challenges along the way. But life lessons come from those moments when you’re challenged.

SW: How closely do you follow what’s happening on campus today?

GH: Having a mother who’s on the board of trustees is a huge thing in keeping up with a place that gets even better, even more exciting in its academic opportunities, even more inclusive, than it was when I was there. Neither of my parents went to Duke. But they have fallen in love with Duke.

SW: You’ve done everything from opening the Homecoming Dance with President Brodhead to helping produce the film that’s a tribute to Coach Al Buehler. What do you most like doing as a volunteer?

GH: Pretty much everything. I’ve heard our trustee David Rubenstein [’70] say the word “philanthropy” is rooted in the Greek word for love of humanity. Duke alumni share a tight bond; it’s really love of Duke.

SW: What do you look forward to after you retire?

GH: The basic thing I look forward to is visiting campus more frequently. Maybe one day, if they do well enough in school, my two girls will want to apply to Duke. My wife is a recording artist, and both girls are musically inclined. They can hold a note, unlike their father. And watch out—they also both enjoy competing as athletes.