George Shinn’s life is a classic rags-to-riches story, powered by his life’s motto: “You gotta believe!”
George’s father died when he was eight years old—he and his mother lost everything. Though he grew up poor, he is always quick to point out just how rich he really was. George and his mother survived on her hard work with some help from welfare and good people and as a boy in school, he received free lunches. As a mother with very strong faith, she taught him every day to believe in God and believe in himself. George firmly believes that when you have that deep in your heart—you have everything you need in life.
George was a poor student in school and struggled with his first jobs in a carwash, a bakery, and a textile mill. But he never stopped believing. He heard about Evans Business College, a small school in Concord, NC, and signed up to improve his chances for success. He not only graduated but ended up owning the school—and created the largest network of private business schools in the country.
He continued to build a number of other companies during his business career, culminating when against all odds, he brought the first major league sports franchise to the Carolinas in 1987 as the founding owner of the Charlotte Hornets of the NBA. He moved the Hornets to New Orleans in 2002 and due to the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, he relocated the team to Oklahoma City until the New Orleans arena had been repaired. As a result of his efforts, three teams have been added to the NBA: Charlotte, New Orleans, and Oklahoma City. George continued to guide the Charlotte Hornets until 2010 when he faced a challenge of a different sort—a diagnosis of prostate cancer. But George refused to give up on God and on life. Today, he is healthy, whole, and living life to make a difference in the lives of other people.