Martin going to UNA Hall of Fame

Published 10:00 pm Wednesday, August 20, 2008

More than 41 years ago, Steve Martin was born the last of nine children to Aggie Martin, a single parent.

Now, the baby boy will receive the notoriety not usually afforded the youngest child of a small family.

Martin will be inducted into the University of North Alabama Hall of Fame on Oct. 25.

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“It’s a great honor for me. That’s a great honor and pleasure to be in the hall of fame,” said Martin. “It says a lot about what my mother has done, coming from a single-parent home — the values and morals and ethical values she instilled me.”

He attributes his success to his mother for good reason. Despite tough circumstances, Aggie pushed her kids to achieve their potential and prepared them to take care of themselves in the real world.

“I was a pushy woman, and they loved me for it,” she said.

Martin was a four-year basketball letterman for the Lions from 1986-1990. He left UNA as the school’s all-time leading scorer and is now third all-time with 1,561 career points. He scored in double figures 73 times in his four-year career. He averaged 20.4 points as a senior and was All-Gulf South Conference and All-South Region.

Martin played at Selma High under former coach A.A. Sewell. He had talent, but he showboated too much.

That cockiness almost cost him dearly.

His sophomore year, Sewell instructed his players to practice layups by laying the ball off the glass. Martin repeatedly tipped the ball off the glass and reverse dunked it.

“(Sewell) said, ‘Son, I’m only going to tell you one more time,’” said Martin.

Martin did it again, and Sewell sent him home. His dismissal was brief, but he didn’t know that at the time.

“I didn’t take that too well,” said Aggie Martin. “Most times they don’t take them back.

But fortunately, Sewell took Steve back the next day.

“I went back to Coach the next day and he told me, ‘If you can’t do what I tell you to do, you can’t play,’” said Martin. “The lesson was learned. Showing off doesn’t get you anywhere.”

He completed his bachelor’s degree at UNA in 1990. That same year, he took a graduate assistant position under women’s basketball coach Wayne Byrd.

“He gave me an opportunity when I thought I was at a crossroads. He gave me options,” said Martin. “He gave me the opportunity to further my education and make a difference in someone’s life.”

But life after UNA was difficult. After leaving his graduate position in 1992, he couldn’t find work as a teacher. With a wife, Deborah, and two kids — Deonna and Stephanie — depending on him, he took a job in a textile mill for six years.

He finished his masters at UNA in 1997 and became a substitute at Wheaton Middle School in Florence. In 1998, he was given a full-time position as a teacher and basketball coach. Following a 2004 school consolidation, he moved to Florence Middle School, where he is a tenured teacher today.