HIGHLANDS – He’s tall, has a big grin, and makes you feel comfortable right away.
Joe Stephens has a history that includes being a basketball star at North Shore high school, and on the Houston Rockets and other pro teams for a total of 10 years in the NBA. He played with super stars such as Hakeem Olajuwon, Mario Elie and Clyde Drexler, and at a recent fund raiser for his political career, they were there as hosts.
Stephens is now a successful insurance agent in North Shore, but he plans to run for the office of Justice of the Peace, Pct. 3 Position 1 when Judge Mike Parrott retires next year. In fact, Parrott has publicly endorsed him for the position.
The Highlands Rotary club had Stephens as a guest at a recent luncheon, and he spoke about his career, his work with youth, and his aspirations to help his life-long community as a Justice of the Peace. Stephens told an entertaining story of how he got into pro basketball. In 1996 he and a few friends heard that there was an open tryout that the Houston Rockets were conducting in Sugar Land, so they went. After playing there for a while, he caught the eye of coach Rudy Tomjonovich, who came over to him, and offered him a position on the team.
He would play for the Rockets for 2 years, and a total of 10 years in the NBA for other teams, including the Los Angeles Lakers.
He emphasized his commitment to the North Shore neighborhood, having grown up there and in the Crosby area. His family was originally from Pine Trails, in East Texas, and Mont Belvieu where his father worked for Gulf Oil.
In 2009 he became a member of the Galena Park Rotary, and was elected to the Galena Park school board, where he was recently made president.
As a parent, he has been active in the North Shore PTA, where he was awarded a “Lifetime Achievement” award.
He also serves on the North Channel Chamber of Commerce board of directors.
He has spent a great deal of time helping the youth of the area, including mentoring 57 kids at the Can Academy in Houston.
Stephens is known in North Shore for his tradition of giving needy families a turkey for Christmas, and last year he gave out 500 of the birds.
In his life he has tried to set an example for youth, he said, and he advises them to “shoot for the moon, even if you miss you will be with the stars.”
He sees his quest for the JP seat as an extension of the community service that is his hallmark.