They Got Game

Twins Dan and Dana Napier took a big gamble on careers in the gaming industry. They are now the highest-ranking African Americans at MGM Grand Inc.

in the late ’70s, females were automatically unacceptable with industry old timers," Lanni says. "The same was probably true for minorities."

Fowler agrees. However, he is quick to point out that "in the last five to eight years, we’ve seen a real movement on the part of white women in the business. Blacks are still not well represented."

The bulk of a casino’s positions are in the dealers’ pool, where a high school or college graduate can earn a starting salary of $40,000, tips included. To break into upper management, says Fowler, "You have to have a solid education and a strong business and management background. After that, if you’re white, you can be ordinary. But if you’re black, you have to be extraordinary."

No one ever gave Dan and Dana that advice. But no one had to. They have always stood out, although not from each other. Both are divorced fathers, and share mannerisms, winning people skills and a passion for golf and other sports. But perhaps most striking is their genuine enthusiasm for what they do, and their single-minded focus on personal excellence.

Both are fierce competitors, although they maintain that they have never competed against each other. Nor do they intend to. Although their loyalty and commitment to MGM Grand is something both speak of often, their closeness and commitment to each other exceeds all.

The brothers developed the traits that would make them successful in Las Vegas back in the small town of Seguin, Texas. Their divorced mother, Joann Cleaver, raised her three boys (brother Don is one year older) in Austin. Yet they spent most weekends and vacation time in Seguin on the 250-acre ranch owned by their maternal grandparents, Suzie and Lawrence Crenshaw.

The Crenshaws owned two mortuaries, a small convalescent home and an ambulance service. As far back as they can remember, the boys were involved in it all. At the mortuaries, although Dana notes they would always find something else to do
around embalming time, there was no escaping attendance at funeral planning sessions between their grandparents and grieving families.

"We’d be out playing ball or something, and my grandparents would come get us and pull us into their office and sit us on a couch in the corner," Dana recalls. "The
people would walk into the room all sad and crying over their loved one, and somehow they’d walk out smiling and comforted and feeling so much better."

Countless sessions like these made a particular impact on Dan, who says, "We never actually participated in these meetings. Half the time, we’d fall asleep. But I remember the difference in the people coming in and going out. My grandparents knew how to make people who were facing one of the worst times in their lives feel good. I thought that was a great skill."

Dan and Dana went together to the University of Nevada at

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