Final Four: Houston coach Kelvin Sampson emotionally shares stories of racist upbringing, father fighting KKK

INDIANAPOLIS – Houston coach Kelvin Sampson was forced to pause to manage his emotions Friday at a Final Four news conference, talking about his father's impact as a "role model and hero" in his life and to those in his hometown of Pembroke, North Carolina – as part of the Lumbee Indian community of Deep Branch.

Sampson recounted the time his father, John "Ned" Sampson, and 500 Lumbee Native Americans helped force the Ku Klux Klan out of Maxton, North Carolina in 1958. The encounter – in which Sampson's father and his friends helped break up a KKK rally – is annually celebrated by the Lumbee as the Battle of Hayes Pond. Sampson's father died in 2014 and his grandson's middle name is "Ned." 

"I'm very proud of Lumbee Nation. I'm very proud of my father," Sampson told reporters. "(Ned Sampson)'s a pretty good person to be a role model of growing up."

“Even to this day if you go back to Pembroke, North Carolina, he was a rock and a foundation piece for that community. We’re a non-federally recognized native American tribe that’s felt prejudice and racism our entire lives. When I was raised in Pembroke, that was a big source of pride — that we stayed with each other. We kind of care of each other. The KKK was huge in that area. That’s a vivid, clear image with me." 

The 65-year-old Sampson also talked about coaching clinics with his father that were segregated and his father's part-time job in a Tobacco factory where water fountains and bathrooms were labeled "colored," "white" and "other." 

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