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Making an Impact

Boxing champion Timothy Bradley Jr. may be retired from the ring, but he can still deliver a punch in the community.

Sean Planck Social Scene, Watch & Listen - Social Scene

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Congressman Raul Ruiz (D-36th District) speaks with former boxing champ Timothy Bradley (center) during the Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration on Jan. 14.
PHOTOGRAPHS BY STEVEN SALISBURY

Timothy Bradley Jr. says a stranger once asked his gang affiliation in the lobby of his dentist’s office, based solely on his clothes. He just looked at the man and calmly said, “My name is Timothy Bradley, Jr. Remember my name. Someday I’ll be somebody.”

Bradley followed through on his promise, rising to become a five-time World Boxing champion. Born in Palm Springs and raised in Cathedral City, Bradley never forgot his roots.

Since announcing his retirement from the ring last year, Bradley has embraced his full-time status in the Coachella Valley to be that recognizable face in the crowd for a purpose. He was one of several speakers to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Jan. 14 at Church of St. Paul in the Desert in Palm Springs.

VIDEO: Watch and listen to speakers at the Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration. (Video by Steven Salisbury)

The church has been commemorating Dr. King’s birthday since “a year before it was made a federal holiday,” according to Jarvis Crawford, Palm Springs Black History Committee president and chairman of the event’s planning committee. Crawford also serves as manager for the City of Palm Springs at the James O. Jessie Desert Highland Unity Center.

Joining Bradley on the podium were Congressman Raul Ruiz; Palm Springs Mayor Robert Moon; former NFL star, actor, and valley resident Fred “The Hammer” Williamson; Rev. Dr. Kephyan Sheppard of Word of Life Fellowship Center; Zjarvre Crawford, president of the Palm Springs High School Associate Student Body, and local recording artist Keisha D.

Bradley and his wife, Monica, have broadened their roots in the community in the past year, opening Haus of Poké restaurant in Rancho Mirage (they plan to open a Palm Springs location in May), along with their continued involvement in local charities and youth organizations. “If I have the time, I will donate the time … especially for the youth … they are, as we all know, the future,” Bradley said after his speech. “We attach ourselves to a lot of local charities, and we’re really just looking to help people.”

In his speech, Bradley took the same tone in noting that the church was at the center of his upbringing, teaching him about “love for people, love [for] yourself, and love for your family. I just love people … I don’t look at the color of your skin; I don’t look at how much money you’ve got … I just try to treat people how they want to be treated.”

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Palm Springs High School students created artwork about Dr. King that was exhibited and awarded at the event.

In addition, an exhibit of artwork by Palm Springs High School students communicating the positive impact of Dr. King’s life adorned the church walls at the event, and students were awarded for their creativity.

The MLK event is a lead-in to Black History Month in February. The Palm Springs Black History Committee will present its 31st annual Black History Month series of events, starting Feb. 3 with the Black History Month Cultural Appreciation Fashion, Music & Art Extravaganza at the Driftwood Estate in Palm Springs. The event “aims to enlighten and educate the Coachella Valley through fashion, music, and art [about] the rich heritage of African-Americans.” VIP tickets are sold out, but the event is free.

The Committee’s black-tie awards gala follows Feb. 3 at the Palm Springs Hilton. On Feb. 24, the Black History Month Parade will travel down Palm Canyon Drive in Palm Springs and end with a fair at Frances Stevens Park.