He's known by basketball fans as a great player, but as this article points out, "his best work, he insists, came in the classroom" as an English teacher.
"There are so many tentacles involved in teaching, you don't know who you've touched," he said. "Ten years later, a student will come back and say you meant something to him, changed him in some way."
As he explains in this article from Sports Illustrated, "teaching is not so different from basketball."
"It is tremendously rewarding because every day you risk your emotions to get something accomplished, and you can see it happen," he says. "As an athlete, I'm used to that. You play a game, and you can produce right there on the spot; it's immediately gratifying. The same thing can happen in teaching. If you have a bad day, you know there's another day coming, and you can make up for it. Teaching is a high-intensity profession, and I like high-intensity things."
Tom, who at 70 is battling cancer, maintains his optimistic attitude:
"The most important thing is to live in the now," he said, "and whatever will happen, will happen. It's completely rewarding to know I succeeded in two areas of my life. And of course, I have three wonderful children. You have beautiful, wonderful children, and you have some success, you know, life could be worse."
[Here's a good interview with Tom from a few years ago.]