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Tampa, FL - From the inner city to the big city.

In honor of Black History Month, we're introducing you to a Tampa entrepreneur who began with very little, but has built an empire of his own right here in the bay area.

His life story is not only uplifting, but also quite inspiring. Just walking into the offices of George Tinsley Sr, you might be distracted by all of the awards and trophies this self-made millionaire has accumulated from more than 30 years as a restaurant owner. Each plaque and picture tellsa different story of how he's turned tragedy into opportunity. However, there's one story not on the wall.It's thestory about Georgebeingabandoned by his parents at just seven months old, left to be raised by the woman he would eventually callmom, 65-year-old Willie Tinsley.

He grew up in a poor black neighborhood near Louisville, Kentucky filled with drugs and violence. When George was 13,Williedied. It was alife-altering event that could've easily destroyed his confidence, but around that same time he met Gaye Howell, a Jr. High teacher who reached out to George with a simple gesture-she placedhim in the audio/visual squad at school.

Once in high school, that self-assurance contributed to three things: his skills on the basketball court, academics and the introduction of the young lady that he would end up dating in college and eventually marry.

He would go on to start as a freshmen at Kentucky Weslyan and help win three NCAA Division-2 championships in four years. After a short stint with pro-basketball, he began his career as a training instructor for KFC. Today, he owns and operates more than 60 restaurant franchises, mostly in Tampa and this year, he celebrates a 20-year milestone of ownership of the TGI Fridays at Tampa International Airport.

Clearly, George Tinsley Sr. is the true definition of what it means to go from rags to riches. More importantly, this family man, businessman and civic leader is giving back to the Bay area with programs of mentoring and counseling young people. George visits schools all year long in the Bay area, speaks at USF often, has a think-tank made up of young people and works closely with 100 Black Men of America, Inc at Hillsborough Community College.

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