The HallPass team recently sat down and caught up with Summer League alumni stand-out Le’Sheala Dawson, a rising star in the business of sports.
In this interview Shea talks about her passion for sports, her experience as a staff member for the NBA Summer League and her passion for serving others.
Q: You’ve been a part of the Samsung NBA Summer League for (2 years). Tell us about your experience as part of the staff.
A: I have been a part of the Samsung NBA Summer league staff for two wonderful, life changing years. Prior to being a part of the staff I had always been a fan of the Summer League, watching my younger brother Malcolm Thomas try his luck at making an NBA roster each summer, which is another reason why the NBA Summer League means so much to me. The league gave him the opportunity to showcase his talent in front of NBA personnel that he wouldn’t have had otherwise.
Little did I know that being a part of the Summer League staff I would go through a similar process as my brother did – but from a front office standpoint. Summer League was my shot at a tryout… I was trying out for NBA teams and didn’t even know it at the time!
I remember the whole experience like it was yesterday. I was so nervous my first year… I almost didn’t even go because of my fear.
I credit my dear friend Liron Fanan for pushing me to send in my resume, which I was so reluctant to do because of my age. She knew that I was passionate about working for an NBA team one day and she insisted that I take a shot at the opportunity. I just honestly never thought it would be possible until I met the men behind the magic show- Albert Hall and Warren LeGarie, two of the most amazing and humble men I’ve ever met.
It was after meeting Warren and Albert that I said to myself, “Shea, what the heck? This is your DREAM opportunity.” Even though I was going to be a 30 year old intern, Warren and Albert didn’t care. They gave me an opportunity to showcase who I was as a person and as a professional. Needless to say, my first year was absolutely incredible and I’m so happy I followed through.
I was part of the Game Operations crew, in charge of getting the crowd excited and helping create an unbelievable Summer League experience. At Summer League I won an award, I met people who inspired me and I made lifelong friends. Man…It was truly a dream. I think I went to bed every night saying “Wow did I just do that? Or wow…did I just meet that person?”
It is true what they say – when you find your passion and you love what you do, it doesn’t feel like work. The long hours seemed too short, the games didn’t last long enough and certainly Summer League could have been my full time job.
That’s how much the experience meant to me.
Q:What have you learned over the years while working at Summer League?
A: I have learned so many things working Summer League, but the one word that embodies everything is humility.
When you work for people who have no egos, who erase job titles and throw social status out the window, something magical happens. Imagine the human body and all of its muscle groups working together every day, just for you to take one step. Each and every muscle pulling its own weight toward that common goal.
They are all just happy to be together working for a cause and that is to serve. When you work for management that can leave their egos at the door and show that they really care about you, the possibilities are endless.
Q. You now have a job with the Philadelphia 76ers organization- what is your title and what are your day-to-day responsibilities?
A: My title is Manager of Team Programs and Player Services. My responsibilities vary from on-boarding new employees to the organization, to helping our players at their appearances, to providing visiting families with a VIP experience and making them feel welcomed in Philadelphia.
Q: What is your favorite / most rewarding part of your job?
A: I would have to say serving others! I get to do that every day at the highest level…with great resources to show someone how special they truly are, either to me or the organization.
My boss Brandon Williams, our GM Bryan Colangelo and Coach Brett Brown are really big on people. Valuing others is something we take very seriously in our organization and we collaboratively put forth the effort to make everyone feel included and special. My job is overwhelmingly amazing because of the people I work for and work with. I cannot even believe that this is my life and my career! My heart is so full and fulfilled every day that I walk in that building. All I can do is smile and thank God for blessing me.
Q: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
A: I see myself as a Director or VP of a department within the team setting. I love player development so somewhere along those lines (God willing).
Q: Your job is one that many young people dream of having- what advice would you give a young person trying to break into the business?
A: I would say to first humble yourself. Work hard but with no monetary goal in mind. Be willing to work for little money or for free if you have to, just to get your foot in the door.
Constantly ask yourself questions such as, “do you see yourself working in that industry if all of the money in the world no longer had value?” If you don’t, then that’s not the job or career for you. You must be willing to stick with it and remember what your goals and passions are. If it doesn’t bring you joy then don’t do it!
In the end, you get out of it what you put in. I can honestly say that the most valuable experiences have come from those jobs that you cannot monetize. I worked one camp after another for almost eight years. I look back on my network and it has grown tremendously because of those selfless jobs where people took a chance on me. People would see me working every summer basketball event from Alabama to LA.
Mind you, I wasn’t always compensated for these gigs and sometimes I had to pay for my own flights. But I was there, with my big smile and full heart ready to serve.
You see, when you start from the bottom, you don’t miss any steps. You learn everything… everything it takes to succeed in that industry. You learn from others’ successes and failures, while flying under the radar and free to make mistakes and try new things. That’s the beauty of the it all! #TrustTheProcess
Rapid Fire Q’s:
Role models / People you admire?
Maya Angelou – She inspires me with her words and her courage to speak her mind and be confident in her skin. For me it’s important to be a role model for young black women, especially in the sport industry.
Nelson Mandela– He was a kind leader (that’s what I aspire to be).
Kobe Bryant – I loved his killer instinct and his ability continually achieve his goals. He believed and proved often that he could do anything, and he did!
Any daily habits, rituals or routines?
My favorite thing to do to motivate myself is to go on YouTube and make a playlist. For example, one of my favorite playlist is by a YouTuber named Evan Carmichael. He makes inspirational videos of Entrepreneurs and their Top 10 keys to success.
Check them out if you have time. I do this when I’m feeling inspired by something or someone. I listen to these videos when I’m driving instead of the radio. That way I make sure that I’m feeding my mind positive thoughts every day… manifesting things inside of me that I don’t even realize are there yet.
I want to live a service-driven life and the only way to do that is to study the greats who came before me. Study people who actually lived that way and have made an impact.
Growth Mindset- Carol Dweck
5 Love Languages- Gary Champan
Lean In- Sheryl Sandberg
I am a foodie and I love to travel. Combine those two things and I am in Heaven! There is nothing like a full belly and a full heart.
I’ve got a few, but here are my favorites:
“Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” -Martin Luther King Jr.
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” -Mahatma Gandhi
The NBA Summer League Internship Program gives aspiring sports industry professionals the opportunity to work for the NBA Summer League, an 11-day event held at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Dedicated interns from around the globe are assigned responsibilities that directly enhance the quality of the event such as game operations, social media management, public relations, broadcast, partner activation and more.
1. BJ Domingo – Milwaukee Bucks
2. David Gale – Toronto Raptors
3. Nick U’Ren – Golden State Warriors
4. Shea Dawson – Philadelphia 76ers
5. Jordan Borucki – LA Clippers
6. Dennis Rogers – LA Clippers
7. Chris Gilbert – EMEA at NBA
8. Matthew Wolfson – NBA
9. Chance Lastra – Dallas Mavericks
10. Nicki Gross – Toronto 905
11. Conner Buchanan – Iowa Energy
12. Brett Levy – Brooklyn Nets
13. Eric Guyton – Memphis Grizzlies
14. Trevor Derrett – Sacramento Kings
15. Isaac Jenkins – Maine Red Claws
16. James Fraschilla – Maine Red Claws
17. Paul Robinson – Memphis Grizzlies
18. Amin Elhassan – ESPN
19. Abby Hornacek – 120 Sports
20. Alex Snyder – Wasserman Media Group
21. Tanner Lipson – Wasserman Media Group
22. Drew LeMesurier – Wasserman Media Group
23. Aubrie Warkentien – Tulane University
24. Justin Roper – UNLV Athletics
25. Myles Anicete – Brooklyn Nets
26. Mike Zwick – Los Angeles Lakers
27. Cody Wise – Denver Nuggets
28. Jamaal Benjamin – Los Angeles Lakers
29. Lauren Niemiera – NBA Referee Training
30. Mariah Riddlesprigger – Philadelphia 76ers
31. Naya-Joi Martin – Atlanta Hawks
32. Alex Kline – New Orleans Hornets
33. Brian Grant – Dallas Mavericks
34. Joe DeRosa – Madison Square Garden
35. Jonathan Baron – MLB Networks
36. Quinton Crawford – Orlando Magic
37. Stephen Molina – Detroit Pistons
38. Ben Tenzer – Denver Nuggets
39. David Brody – American Express
40. Nick Brown – UFC
41. Monica Goldschmidt – TCU Athletics
42. Steven Marcus – NC State
43. Chris Feller – Denver Nuggets
44. Devin Dismang – Golden State Warriors
45. Logan Beerman – Big 12 and ESPN
46. German Srulovich – Sacramento Kings
47.Carley Sisolak – Vegas Golden Knights
48. Corey Belser – Sky Force / Miami Heat
49. Marissa Chavez – Los Angeles Clippers
50. Scott Schroeder – Ridiculous Upside
51. Dave McMenamin – ESPN
52. Andy Loomis – Detroit Pistons
53. Matt Tellem – Brooklyn Nets
54. Michael Tellem – CAA
55. Zach Cohen – Golden State Warriors
56. Jon Castagnino – KTNV
57. Ryan Atkinson – Santa Cruz
58. Renee Felton – Dallas Mavericks
59. Alberto Buzzavo – Jolly Scarpe SCA
60. Chad Pennick – Denver Nuggets
61. Ashley Cox, Landmark Sports Agency
62. Michael Ravina – Oklahoma City Thunder
63. Terry Sullivan – Dallas Mavericks
64. Adrian Booker- Reno Bighorns
65. Natalie Nakase – Los Angeles Clippers
66. Jill Berryman, USA Basketball
67. Morgann Mitchell – Turner Sports
68. Alexa Hernandez – Google
69. Scott Horvitz – Intel