HOUSTON World-famous debate coach Dr. Thomas Freeman was honored on Friday morning at Texas Southern University during its annual Founder s Day celebration.

Freeman has guided the debate team at TSU for six decades.

I don't think I chose teaching, Freeman said. I think teaching chose me.

When Denzel Washington was preparing for a role as a debate coach, he got help from Freeman. The Great Debaters was a hit at the box office in part because he was taught by the master himself.

Students at TSU understand his value.

Last year when I got here I was a lost child on campus, said Crystal Owens. And if I had not found Dr. Freeman, a lot of things I have now -- the perspective, the way I carry myself -- would not have been done without him.

Over the years Freeman has demanded that young people reach for the stars.

Dr. Freeman has pushed so many students to go outside of their comfort zone, so without Dr. Freeman students would not be able to reach their full potential, said Marcus Esther.

Freeman said he is filled with gratitude for being recognized, but nothing beats influencing a young mind.

One of the rewards for teaching is watching the student whom you have influenced, develop and grow, Freeman said.

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