Former NBA player William Cunningham touches the hearts of his students and players

AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) - One Augusta junior varsity basketball coach and special education teacher is touching the hearts of his students every single day.

Augusta-native William Cunningham is a man who stands out among the crowd. But not just because he stands 6'11. Cunningham is a former professional basketball player who has played along with some of the NBA's most talented players.

"One of my best experiences, I got a chance to meet Kobe Bryant when he was about 17 or 18 years old. Before and after he went in to the NBA. Just having a chance to follow his career and seeing how he started out," says Cunningham.

But how did he end up coaching and teaching at Laney High School? He says after playing in the NBA, he discovered another passion. Teaching special education. He felt that field of teaching often didn't have enough teachers for the students.

"Just that we all have limitations as long as we let them be limitations. But the students that I deal with, I'm a moderate teacher, and the students deal with, they don't let those limitations stop them from doing things," says Cunningham.

Cunningham also applies this on the court to his players by pushing them and holding them accountable.

"Every action has a consequence. When they do things that are outside of our team rules and our expectations, that there's going to be a consequence. And I'm going to hold them to it. I'm going to hold them accountable. They have responsibilities on and off the court," says Cunningham.

Going above what's required as a coach, he makes sure his players are taken care of even after games.

"I just found out that's when young men get in trouble. They have that need, they're actually hungry. So, I just found, why don't we give them a meal, take that problem away, and then they can go on to the next thing in life," says Cunningham.

Cunningham says tough love has been one of his biggest teaching methods for his players to help them grow into responsible and intelligent young men. He also says a lot of the players are in their early college program and doing really well.

Copyright 2018 WFXG. All rights reserved.