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I recently had the chance to sit down and chop it up with a long time friend of mine, Baron Davis, of the Los Angeles Clippers.  Baron and I went to UCLA together back in the 90’s and I always had a tremendous amount of respect for the committment he has towards his community.  I have watched him grow over the years and his committment just gets stronger and stronger.  It is no surprise that Baron has become a leader, on and off the court.  This is one of the realest dudes I know.

While you were growing up in LA, who was there to mentor you and how did they keep you from the streets?

My grandfather will always be the strongest male figure in my life. And while he isn’t here today, I still think of all the times we spent together and all the great advice he gave to me. As I got older, it was people like Bobby Watson, Thaddeus McGrew, and Daryl Roper who really helped me grow as a person, and as a basketball player.  Through sports, I learned that life was much bigger than what I perceived, and any trouble I might get in on the streets was not worth the disappointment to those that cared about me. My experiences on different teams, the travel, and the mentorship I received all helped develop the person I am today, both on and off the court. To take risks and avoid shortcuts, work hard, and to always surround myself with a good team are lessons I will never forget.

When you were growing up, what happened to your friends who didn’t have a mentor?

For those that didn’t have any guidance, a lot of them succumbed to the violence in the inner-city. Many of the people I know without mentors are in jail, dead, or still around, but just “existing” in the cycle of violence and poverty. 

What advice would you give young people who might need a mentor.

Regardless of how young or old you are, everyone can use a mentor. Know that it’s ok to ask for help. Find someone you can trust, and then be open to the advice of people who have been down a similar road. Someone you can share your concerns, dreams, and ideas with is extremely valuable to development, and then someday, you can return the favor to someone else looking for a mentor.  And while it’s great to have success on the court, it’s even better to be a champion in all aspects of your own life. I encourage young kids to always “LIVE WITH INTENTION, PLAY WITH HEART, and WALK WITH SWAGGER.”

What have you done to mentor young people now that you are in the NBA?

I think the NBA does a great job of ensuring that players are involved in charitable causes, but for myself, I though it was important to begin my own foundation and do more than just what was asked of us through the league. I started ‘Rising Stars of America’ to provide a platform for young kids to be active in sports and activities. The mission of RSOA is to utilize athletics as a means of teaching ethical, social values and life skills through mentorship and positive role modeling to today’s youth. Its not just kids in the inner-cities that need mentoring, everyone needs people they can rely on, and my focus with RSOA is to make sports

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