NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - He is known as Vanderbilt's all-time basketball scoring leader. Shan Foster is now making a bigger splash in the community as a leader in the push against domestic violence.
His journey from the hardwood to helping men and boys become part of the solution surrounding domestic violence is our focus for this week's 4 Your Community.
The city of Nashville has always shown love for the kid from Kenner, Louisiana. We started our conversation by asking about his time at Vanderbilt and what the city of Nashville means to him.
"My time at Vanderbilt was amazing," Foster said. "All four years, I enjoyed every bit of it. This community really wrapped its arms around me and welcomed me in."
Foster loved that feeling of community as a player, and even now, it's something that lives in his heart.
"I've just always been around service. I've always had a passion for community and people and seeing people as valuable," Foster said. "Regardless of where they come from, things that are impacting their lives. I always saw people as valuable."
He is now impacting lives as the Executive Director of AMEND Together. It's a primary prevention initiative dedicated to ending violence against women and girls by educating men and boys to be a part of the solution.
He got involved six years ago after retiring from basketball. But, he said it was the domestic violence numbers that caught his attention.
"One in four women experience domestic violence," Foster said. "I've been around great people who value the women in their lives, but yet one out of five women are sexually assaulted. That doesn't add up."
Foster said he is now traveling the city and the country, boots on the ground talking about domestic violence solutions to men in the board rooms. And more importantly to young men and boys at camps.
"Violence is a learned behavior, and the reality is people are really following our lead," Foster said. "So when I talk about the 1 in 4 women being victims of domestic violence, those are adult numbers. So the kids are following the adults lead when it comes to this kind of stuff."
In Nashville this year alone, the Police Data Dashboard has seen 6,531cases of domestic violence, and in those cases, 1,686 kids were present. That's why it's so essential for Foster to reach the kids as soon as possible. And it seems the message is getting through.
"It would talk about women and just educated me about what they go through," Chance, who went through one of the AMEND Together camps said. "They talked about how women were negatively portrayed. They talked about how a woman goes through stuff that I just wasn't educated on."
As a youngster, Foster saw first-hand what domestic violence can do to a child. He said the strong women in his life; his wife, grandmother, and mother are his guiding lights for this life-long mission. So his journey continues. Each one, teach one.
"People are not born violent. They are not born abusive. They are not born with hate in their heart," Foster added. "That is something that they learn from the adults that are around them. And so, if it can be learned, it can also be unlearned. And it can be taught differently. And that's the work that we are doing."
As a witness to domestic violence and victim of child abuse by his step-father, Foster brings a unique perspective to the groups he speaks with. It also helps to explain why he is so passionate about helping domestic violence victims.