Reese: A humble family man and hoops standout

Published 12:26 pm Friday, January 27, 2023

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Editor’s note: This is the fifth in a series of six articles, each highlighting one of the 2022 inductees to the Franklin Community Wall of Excellence. Stories on Robert E. CarterHerman A. CharityConstance “Connie” Lankford Chase, the late George Horace “Top” Hedgepeth and J. Mitchell Sandlin are also online.

The Franklin Community Wall of Excellence gained six new names via its 2022 class.

Those being inducted onto the wall due to their outstanding service included Robert E. Carter, Herman A. Charity and the late George Horace “Top” Hedgepeth. Constance Lankford Chase was inducted due to her impact in the world of cultural and performing arts, Ronald Reese was inducted as a result of his athletic accomplishment and J. Mitchell Sandlin joined the wall due to his outstanding career.

The sixth annual Franklin Community Wall of Excellence Induction Dinner and Ceremony took place Saturday, Oct. 22, at the Cypress Cove Country Club.

As noted in the event’s program, through the vision of some local Franklin City Public Schools alumni and school personnel, the Franklin Community Wall of Excellence Inc. was established in 2016 as a program to honor former Franklin and Hayden high school students, administrators, teachers and staff who have excelled or distinguished themselves through personal and/or professional success, as well as to recognize those community members who have made significant contributions to the public schools in Franklin.

“The Wall” is located at Franklin High School, adjacent to the gymnasium, a recent Wall of Excellence news release stated. Names and photos of each inductee are displayed for generations of Franklin High School students and community members to see as they walk by on their way to class or an event at FHS.


The induction dinner and ceremony program stated that Reese is a 1987 graduate of Franklin High School.

He ultimately grew to be 6 feet, 8 inches tall, and while at FHS, he played on the school’s basketball team at the center position. The event program continued by noting that during his Bronco career, Reese was awarded all-state honors thrice and all-region honors twice. His senior year, he was recognized as one of the Top 100 All-American players.

The program highlighted, though, that what Reese is most thankful for during his time spent at Franklin High was “the opportunity to attend and obtain a high school diploma from a wonderful faculty and coaching staff.”

He gave a special thanks to Coach Head.

After graduating from FHS, Reese went to the University of Tennessee. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in social behavior, and he continued to shine on the basketball court.

After college, he had the opportunity to play professional basketball overseas, and the event program stated that he played in Germany, France, Italy and the Dominican Republic.

“All of these life experiences have humbled Ronnie and have made him realize the importance of giving back to his community that gave so much to him,” his biography in the event program stated. “He devotes much of his extra time in working with youth and instilling in them the hopes and dreams that can be obtained by staying in school, having an eagerness to learn and taking advantage of a free education because so many other countries would love to have the opportunities that are afforded to those who live in America.”

The program added that Reese is currently a lieutenant at Greensville Correctional Center where he has worked for the past 20 years, and his duties include controlling several units at the facility and providing safety and efficiency for his inmates and his officers.

Reese was introduced at the induction ceremony by his brother, Tab Reese.

“It ain’t so much of what he did on the court,” Tab said of his brother. “It’s what he does off the court. He is a family guy. He’s taken care of the family so many times in different ways to make us to where we can live normal because we’ve always got somebody who we can look up to and say, ‘I know he’s going to take care of things right away.’”

He also gave his brother due credit for his achievements on the basketball court.

“His basketball career was awesome,” Tab said. “I’m so proud of him.”

Ronald began his acceptance speech by saying, “It is truly an honor to be here. Thank you.”

He acknowledged his family that was at the event, supporting him.

“My beautiful family, thank you,” he said. “My mom, 87 years old, she’s here.”

This prompted a round of applause for his mother and her faithful love and support.

Addressing his time playing basketball, Ronald said, “It was a great career for me. Moving on after high school, I went to University of Tennessee, played ball. And it was a big experience there. My biggest one was when I played with Shaquille O’Neal. And I got up to the jump ball, and you know you look at somebody, and he didn’t look real.”

The 6-foot-8 Reese had to look up to the 7-foot-1 O’Neal, who went on to win four NBA championships during his professional career.

Ronald also mentioned having had the opportunity to play with Allan Houston, who played in the NBA from 1993-2005, most notably with the New York Knicks.

Referencing the next stage of his own career, Ronald said that playing in multiple countries overseas “was a great experience, not only playing ball, just learning life and seeing how other countries live. That was a wonderful time.”

He emphasized to those present at the ceremony that “I’m always a Bronco, and I’m always a University of Tennessee Volunteer.”

Reflecting on his success that led to his induction onto the Wall of Excellence, he said, “I did what I had to do, and I had a good mom and dad, and I never had a hero — my mother and father were my heroes.”

He thanked everyone in attendance and also thanked the Franklin Community Wall of Excellence Committee for nominating him.

“Again, thank y’all, God bless, everybody drive home safely, and love y’all,” he said.