Wednesday, January 07, 2015

SPORTS STORY >> NP to retire number for Carlos Kelly

Leader sports editor

North Pulaski High School honors a former Falcon on Friday, retiring the jersey of basketball standout and local pastor Carlos Kelly between girls’ and boys’ games against Mills University Studies.

Kelly is a 1992 graduate of NPHS. He’s now husband to Letitia Kelly and father to current Falcons Jalen, a senior, and Caleb, a sophomore.

Current North Pulaski coach Roy Jackson, who graduated from Jacksonville High in 1992, played against Kelly and decided in October to honor his former foe.

“He was a tough player, but it’s also about the work he’s done through his church to support the kids out this way,” said Jackson.

Up until this past Sunday, Kelly was senior pastor at New Hope Baptist Church in North Little Rock, where he’s been for 15 years. He recently accepted the same position at a church in Macon, Ga., and will be moving soon.

Kelly said his emotions were mixed when he found out his high school alma mater wanted to recognize him in such a way.

“First I was surprised and then honored all at the same time,” Kelly said. “I was privileged to have a great career at North Pulaski and get some opportunities beyond high school.”

Kelly averaged 22 points, eight rebounds and six assists for as long as his senior season at NPHS lasted. After garnering Division I offers and verbally committing to the University of Wyoming, he suffered a major knee injury in the 15th game of his senior year, causing Wyoming to renege its offer. He then chose Delta St., where he played for four years, earning a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and staying to earn a master’s in education.

While just about to enroll in law school at Memphis, he felt called to a different path.

“I sensed a call to the ministry and changed career paths right there,” Kelly said. “I started teaching first and then went into full-time ministry.”

Kelly was All-Conference and All-State all three years of high school, and a McDonald’s All-American nominee his senior year.

His oldest son Jalen currently wears his dad’s No. 12 Falcon jersey. He’ll be allowed to finish the season as No. 12, but will be the last person to wear it before it’s hung in the rafters of the Falcons’ Nest for good.

Tip off for the girls’ game is scheduled for 6 p.m. with boys to follow at approximately 7:30 p.m.