#BestYourself Episode 5: How Kenny Dobbs became the world’s best dunker
When you think about the evolution of flight, you tend to think of the inventors and artists who played an important role in helping man satisfy his desire to fly. You come across famous names like Da Vinci, who was obsessed with the concept of human flight and created the first illustrated studies and theories, and Orville and Wilbur Wright, who achieved the first successful flight in North Carolina. Then, in 1961, Russia and the U.S. launched spacecrafts into orbit, and two years later, a baby who would one day become synonymous with “air” and “flight,” was born.
That baby was Michael Jordan. Like the Wright brothers, he became a part of history when he first took flight in North Carolina. His aerial artistry transformed the dunk from a move banned in NCAA basketball to the sport’s most exciting play to a $5.2-billion business that inspired millions of kids and even professional athletes to take flight and be the best at what they do. One of those inspired youths was an inventor named Kenny Dobbs.
It might surprise our followers that on our YouTube channel, which has over 88-million views, the single- most popular video is a mix of Kenny Dobbs, aka “The Dunk Inventor,” dunking in an empty gym. At 3.7- million views, the dunk montage includes Dobbs’ remix of the most famous and difficult dunks by Michael Jordan and other NBA Slam Dunk Contest champions, while introducing a few dunks that have never been seen before. Done to a beat and a vocal refrain of “Anything you can do, I can do better,” the video has surpassed hundreds of other videos we have made featuring the best NBA, NCAA and high school basketball players of the past 10 years. If that sounds impossible, so did most of the ideas Kenny Dobbs had a few years ago.
At the time that Kenny Dobbs was a 15-year-old high school dropout sitting in jail for attempted robbery, the NBA dunk contest was considered dead by many basketball fans, and the critics were complaining that all dunks had been done and that there was nothing new or fresh to add to the dunk contest. But it was during his stint in jail that the 6’3” athlete, who had attended 8 different high schools, decided that he needed to make a change and leave behind the life of crime that had long dominated his life. Dobbs’ first steps after getting out of jail were earning his high school diploma, becoming a vocal leader at his church and working odd jobs to pay the bills. During this time, he also rediscovered his love for basketball and one play in particular that came natural to him – the dunk.
With the pressure of providing for his family, which soon included a new baby girl, Dobbs needed more income and chose making money off his basketball skills over playing college basketball. He entered a dunk contest and won $500. Then he found another contest, then another, and soon he was putting on dunk exhibitions at NBA half-time shows and at schools. Videos of his dunk exploits soon surfaced on YouTube, where he began to build a cult following of fans bored with NBA-contest dunks, but appreciative of his efforts to take dunking to a new level.
Over the next few years, Kenny Dobbs went from being the “Dunk Inventor” to the “Best Dunker in the World.” The day he claimed that title was February 23, 2012, when he competed in a Sprite Dunk Contest judged by dunk legends Darryl Dawkins and LeBron James during NBA All-Star Weekend. After completing a series of dunks never before seen in an NBA dunk contest, Dobbs brought out Cedric Ceballos, who won the NBA Slam Dunk Contest in 1992 while blindfolded. Ceballos took out the famous blindfold and put it on Dobbs. Not satisfied to simply do the same dunk that had won Ceballos his title, Dobbs brought out 3 people to jump over. Still not satisfied, Dobbs decided to do a between-the-legs, blindfolded dunk over the 3 people. That dunk alone would have received a 50, but with the “Inventor’s” touch, it became arguably the most difficult contest dunk ever attempted, and Dobbs pulled it off in one try. The crowd went crazy. NBA players on the sideline went crazy, too. LeBron was impressed, and when Kobe Bryant came to shake Dobbs’ hand after the performance, he was shaking his head in disbelief at what Dobbs had done.
Like all inventions and gifts, they are worthless if they aren’t shared and used to better something or somebody. Dobbs knows this and that’s why he uses his aptitude for dunking to capture the attention of today’s youth at schools, churches, Native American reservations and business organizations. All this in order to inspire people with his words, ideas and stories of the high goals he has attained thanks to hard work and believing in himself as well as in his athletic ability.
From troubled youth to YouTube sensation to the best in his field to motivational speaker to a name that is now a brand, Kenny Dobbs is dedicated to helping today’s troubled youth and motivating them to be the best at whatever they want to do, so they, too, can one day take flight.
“We start each day with a new opportunity. A chance to be better than the day before. For me, it wasn’t easy – I didn’t follow the crowd, didn’t try to be like everyone else. I was just me and that’s when my journey began.”
“When you’re on this journey you’ll have failures but you’ll also have successes. What matters most is you’re willing to work harder, think bigger, be yourself, only better everyday. So there are two ways to think about this, there’s the world around you and how it affects you then there’s how you affect the world because when each of us gets better we all get better.”
“So forget about the competition. Forget about the circumstances. We can’t control those things. What you can control is: You. You can challenge yourself, push yourself, best yourself. And at the end of the day, the only question left to ask yourself is: What are you going to do next?” - Nick Cannon
Grayson “The Professor” Boucher is arguably the most recognizable face in streetball. He first made a name for himself on the popular And1 Mixtapes and ESPN show “Streetball” in 2004 and in the past 9 years he’s been on the cover of Sports Illustrated, the lead actor in a film with Ludacris and Academy Award winner Melisa Leo, appeared in numerous commercials, played in international exhibition games alongside NBA legends like Allen Iverson and Tracy McGrady, and most recently been the star of a series of viral videos and travelled around the nation as part of the Ballup Streetball Tour.
Bobby Brown is a 28 year old professional basketball player that has played for the Kings, Timberwolves, Hornets and Clippers. He also played overseas and earlier this year he won the Euroleague Alphonso Ford Trophy, an award given to the league’s Best Scorer. Not just a scorer, the former California State University player also was 3rd in the Euroleague in assists and 9th in blocks even though he’s only 6’2!
Nicknamed “The Dunk Inventor” and known to most of the dunk and Youtube community as “the best contest dunker in the world,” Kenny Dobb’s videos have accumulated millions of online views and built a fanbase that even includes many NBA players. He even had LeBron James and Kobe Bryant congratulate him after his see-it-to-believe-it performance at the 2012 Sprite Showdown contest that took place during NBA All-Star weekend. When he’s not putting on international dunk exhibitions or appearing in commercials, Dobbs is conducting basketball clinics and visiting high schools to talk to kids about the importance of hard work, education and staying out of trouble.
They call Myree Bowden “Reemix” because of his ability to remix and liven up events. Starting with his memorable appearance in the 2003 NCAA Slam Dunk Contest, Reemix has been showing off his talents with everybody from The Harlem Globetrotters to the TV show SlamBall to the NBA Nation tour where he serves as an All-Star judge and host of the Sprite Slam Dunk Showdown tour. Not just a performer, Mr Bowden, as his school students call him, spends time as physical trainer and teacher when he’s not on a basketball tour.
6’10” Shawn Kemp and Blake Griffin are known as 2 of the best NBA dunkers of all-time. The other thing they have in common is 5’10 Haneef “Young Hollywood” Munir performed a between the legs dunk OVER both of them this past summer. Staying true to his name, aside from his Sportscenter appearances, Hollywood has also been casted in a lot of national TV commercials and ad campaigns and is the co-owner of basketball talent agency. Next stop for the half-time human highlight will probably be full length Hollywood films.