Following Mary Pat

First Lady Mary Pat Christie Recognizes Gian Paul Gonzalez as the 18th NJ Hero for His Work to Inspire At-Risk Youth

photoAlt Gian Paul Gonzalez was the forward for Montclair State University basketball team during his time in college.  In his junior year, he asked a handful of his competitors from surrounding colleges to join him in starting 4-One.  4-One is an organization that motivates at-risk youth throughout NJ through the game of basketball, inspiring pride and self-esteem in kids who need it the most.  These NCAA basketball stars found a way to use basketball as a tool to bring hope and a life-changing message to inner-city public schools and juvenile jails in NJ. 

Upon graduating from Montclair State, Gian Paul had the opportunity to play professional basketball for the NBA.  However, he decided to give up that dream for another one.  He decided to come back to his hometown to be a high school teacher at the Jose Marti Freshman Academy in Union City. 

Gain Paul started a before and after school program called “Flight Club,” named after the school’s mascot, an eagle.  The program focuses on physical strength and exercise, as well as character building exercises.  Gian Paul talks to his students about how to be upstanding members of society and how to treat others. 

The children involved with Flight Club have also attended 4-One events over the years.  The 4-One team will travel to schools and communities to play basketball with their at-risk youth, while motivating them to do something positive with their lives.  Their motto is “Because one gave all, we give all for one.” 

Gian Paul, being a motivational speaker, was asked by the Giants Chaplain to come speak to the team before their Christmas Eve game last December.  It was at that time that he handed out poker chips to each player and explained that in order to be a whole person, they had to be “All In”.  This referred to them as not only players, but as husbands, fathers, and men.  Gian Paul’s speech gave the Giants their late-season turnaround, which culminated in the team’s Super Bowl win.  The “All In” rally cry was made famous and is widely used among Giant fans still today.  

We are happy to recognize Gian Paul as our October 2012 NJ Hero!