"I had days when my friends said, 'Come play basketball,' but I told them I was busy working. I don't bring friends with me when I work because that ruins a business."
As a result of his dedication to his work, Lee was accepted as one of 40 Philadelphia-area students for the Young Entrepreneurs Program of the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School and was one of three of those students recognized by the Philadelphia City Council.
Last week, he was honored yet again as Wharton's Venture Capital Board agreed to help finance up to $500 of his planned expansion of Seed Productions in 1992.
"He has excellent business ideas, he is eager to learn, and he is an energetic, inspiring young man who seems to me to have a very real concern for his community," said Alia Walker A. Rashied, director of the Wharton West Philadelphia Project, which oversees the Young Entrepreneurs Program.
"His parents are very supportive and have helped him to achieve his goals," she said.
In the Young Entrepreneurs Program, students spend two weeks in the classroom learning how to run a business and take field trips to business sites, including the New York Stock Exchange.
Lee's father, Nathaniel Lee Sr., said he and his wife, Janice Lee, had taught their son to respect others and work hard to earn respect.
The elder Lee said his son's early education at the School in Rose Valley and later at the Hill Top School in Rosemont had helped reinforce the values he received at home.
"What he has done has not surprised us," Lee said. "He has always been a leader, and he has always been very caring about other people and the earth."
Young Lee brings those concerns into his business by refusing to use lawn- care chemicals. From the beginning, he has given a discount to senior citizens. He also gives 10 percent of his company's profits to the First Baptist Church of Darby day-care center, where he is a volunteer.
Lee, a junior at Penn Wood High School, is on the distinguished honor roll and is a member of the choir.
Tom Dorrin, a Penn Wood counselor, said Lee also volunteered his services to the school's literacy project.
"He is a very caring kid with a real desire to bring people together," Dorrin said. "He tries to work with any of the kids who are having problems."
As if his life were not full enough, Lee is also a piano student at Settlement Music School in Philadelphia and is researching colleges. He wants to eventually work for a doctorate in divinity.
"Ever since I was 10 I wanted to be a minister," Lee said. "I want to work with people and help them solve their problems."