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.
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