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Mr. Big Shot Unveiled

Chauncey Billups Now Hanging At Blair-Caldwell Library

By Lynn Bartels

Special to the GPHN

Chauncey Billups and his wife Piper, with his portrait. Photo credit: Evan Semón Photography


Chauncey Billups, AKA “King of Park Hill,” credited his family and his community for his successes on and off the basketball court when his photograph was unveiled in early December at the Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library.

The former NBA all-star said he planned to bring his daughters to see the portrait of their dad when they were home from college for the holidays, and he urged others to visit the library in Five Points, at 2401 Welton St.

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and former Mayor Wellington Webb, left, with Chauncey Billups and his wife Piper, at the unveiling of Billups’ portrait at the Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library. Photo by Josh Miller/Special to the GPHN

“My great-great grandkids are going to be able to come here and see their old, old man,” Billups said. “I never dreamed this big, to have something like this. … I’m so proud of where I’m from and who raised me. I appreciate you all supporting me over the years and I love you back.”

He also thanked former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb and Webb’s wife, former state Rep. Wilma Webb, for their efforts in pushing for the construction of the library, where a portion is dedicated to making sure Denver and Colorado’s rich black history is not lost.

“You talk about people who impacted me as a kid?” Billups said. “Having Mayor Webb being a black mayor from the neighborhood instilled in us kids we could do anything.”

The master of ceremonies, Dr. Ryan Ross, got a big laugh when he introduced Webb as the “undisputed heavyweight champion of politics.”

Billups’ wife, Piper, his parents, Ray and Faye Billups, and his grandmother attended the unveiling. Ross and others talked about Billups’ humility and path in life.

Denver Nuggets guard Chauncey Billups makes a shot in the first quarter at the Pepsi Center on Jan. 30, 2009. Denver Public Library, Rocky Mountain News Photo Archives, photo by Barry Gutierrez.

Billups grew up in Park Hill playing basketball at Skyland Recreation Center. He was a standout at George Washington High School, where he graduated in 1995. He played for the University of Colorado Buffaloes before playing for the NBA for 17 seasons, where he picked up the nickname “Mr. Big Shot.” His other nickname, King of Park Hill, is famously memorialized on a tattoo on his left arm.

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, who was also at the December unveiling, gave a nod to the nickname.

“Tonight we are here to celebrate a big shot, one of our very own. Before there was Phillip Lindsay there was Chauncey Billups,” Hancock said, the former a reference to the Broncos hot running back.

Hancock touched on Billups’ achievements since moving back to Denver. “He has been a smart, brilliant and thoughtful businessman. He has taken care of his family.

“He is touching eternity through his investments as part of the Porter-Billups Leadership Academy, where Chauncey works to provide academic and leadership training to our young people, some of the most vulnerable kids in our city, the same neighborhoods that he came from.”

Billups said he is a “mirror reflection” of his parents, grandparents, aunties and uncles, rec center staffers, coaches and more, and God’s influence. And he credited  God’s influence in his life.

“Oh, man, not many times am I speechless like this,” he said, “but this is really humbling for me.”

Lynn Bartels worked for 16 years at the Rocky Mountain News and six years at the Denver Post. She has been spokeswoman for the Colorado Secretary of State’s office since 2015, where she maintains a political blog. This story is reprinted with permission.

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