Orrin Hudson is a world-class chess master and the founder of “BeSomeone.” Over the years, I’ve learned to only play him during an interview.
“You’re trying to come in my house,” he laughs, taking my knight. “Get out of my house!”
Distracting him with questions is the only chance I have at winning. It is a strategy, by the way, that has never worked.
“In this case here, I’m winning,” he says, snatching my queen from the board. “So I trade all pieces. Trade every piece; just trade everything off the back row.”
This game took longer than most. About three minutes.
“Check mate,” he grins amiably, shaking my hand. “Game over.”
For Hudson chess is more than a way of life.
It is life.
And that’s what he teaches his kids, 20-thousand of them and counting, through his innovative non-profit.
“Everyone can be someone if they make the right moves,” he said with the kind of infectious enthusiasm that only he can generate. “It’s all in the moves you make. You have everything you need to win.”
Hudson’s work through “BeSomeone” has been recognized internationally for its positive impact on kids. His walls are covered with stories from national magazines and newspapers and pictures of himself with famous supporters like Jane Fonda and Donald Trump.
College student Aaron Porter grew up in the program and became a state chess champion. Now, he wants to be a pilot.
“It helps you look at life a lot differently,” he said over yet another game with Hudson. “It helps you to see it as you should. Some moves you make you can recover from; some moves you make you can’t recover from.”
But despite the successes, the last year has been tough for BeSomeone. The program survives primarily through donations. But the cost for permits and plans to expand his center have nudged up on 50-thousand dollars. The project was close to being put on hold. But Hudson took the same advice he gives his kids.
Dream big. And never quit.
That’s when the 14-thousand dollar check from Tyler Perry arrived in the mail.
“It’s critical, because we’re teaching children hands-on how to think strategically about their future; how to make better choices and decisions about their future. Because the life we save may be our own. And I tell people every day that I teach the children as though my life depends on it… because it does.”
Hudson is a former Alabama State Trooper who says he took the murder of Georgia State Trooper Chadwick LeCroy this week personally. The fact that his alleged killer is a repeat offender, to him, is a failure of the system to put young people on the right track.
“I was sick,” he said softly. “It made me feel like I’m not doing enough. I’ve got to do more to teach young people to think it out and not shoot it out. I’ve got to get out there more.”