Jennifer Safara Perry
Last summer, Say it LOUD! took several road trips and Miami, Florida was one of our main stops for Zo’s Summer Groove featuring D. Wade. Now in its’ 12th year, proceeds from ZSG benefit both Alonzo Mourning Charities and Wade’s World Foundation. Highlights included a youth summit, youth basketball clinics, golf classic, benefit dinner, block party, all-star basketball game, and comedy show.
Both men were excited about joining forces to make an even bigger impact on the community, “Dwyane’s leadership and personal interest in helping young people develop their goals is aligned with the core of what we do,” said Mourning. “Alonzo and I share the same vision. I’ve learned so much from him about the importance of using our successes and voices to positively affect change in the community in which we live. I’ve had a chance to participate in many ZSG events over the years but now it’s not only even more exciting, but also very personal to me, because it’s something we are doing together: merging our goals to make a greater impact” said Wade.
Alonzo Mourning Charities’ mission is to encourage the educational development of our youth by creating programs and youth enrichment centers that promote positive change in low socioeconomic communities. Since 1997 AM Charities has raised more than 6.5 million for various programs that aid in the development of children and their families. With the help of donors, Mourning opened the Overtown Youth Center in 2003. A major component of AM Charities is the Honey Shine Mentoring Program that works to empower young girls to shine as women.
Wade’s World Foundation provides support to community based organizations that promote education, health and social skills for children in at-risk situations. Dwyane was inspired to start the foundation because he wanted to give back to underserved communities and support issues of purpose. As Wade’s World Foundation continues to develop and expand, the mission is to touch young lives around the globe. With the goal of building a youth center in the area where he grew up, Dwyane will continue to support a variety of programs that inspire, uplift and motivate. “I can’t just let basketball define who I am and what I am supposed to become,” said Wade. “Like my mother always tells me, ‘[My life] is bigger than basketball.’”
Mourning and Wade acknowledge that our youth are constantly faced with challenging situations and decisions. Along with the Michael Fux Foundation they organized a full day summit designed to open the lines of communication and discuss real issues that are important to youth at this stage of their lives. Covering a gamut of issues, youth participants had an open dialogue with model individuals, prominent leaders in the community, entertainers, professional athletes, and other teens to find solutions and gain a positive perspective. The following are excerpts from various panelists involved with the phenomenal Youth Summit. We encourage you to read and take heed to their important and profound advice. Although they addressed that particular group of youth, their words resonated and are relevant to all.
Alonzo “Zo” Mourning: Bill Gates is one of the richest men in the world, if not the richest man in the world but he’s still learning. He will tell you that he’s still learning, trying to find new and creative ways to make money, to make things happen. So don’t ever stop learning, don’t ever stop gaining and developing and looking for new and improved information. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and please don’t be afraid to say it because that’s the only way you’re going to improve in life, learning from your experiences. What we’re in here telling you today is for your own good. We’re not here just for ourselves, we’re here for you.
Ed Lover: The difference between constructive criticism and somebody trying to say something to bring you down is just like if your interests, your passions, you want to be a baker, you like to bake, you like to cook and somebody tastes your stuff and they go, “This stuff is nasty, ill” and they just walk away and tell everybody, “She can’t cook, her stuff is nasty.” The difference is somebody saying, “This is really not good, maybe you should add this or maybe you should try this or maybe you should try a different method or I saw this on television you can add this ingredient.” That’s constructive criticism. Somebody can tell you it’s nasty not adding anything to it or not enhancing anything for you, that’s the difference. Some of you might be into fashion. You might have a certain way you like to wear your clothes, or you might want to create your own clothes. You break it out and show it to one of your friends and they’re like, “That’s corny.” Maybe if you change the buttons or maybe if you did something different, that’s constructive criticism in comparison to somebody that is trying to say something to bring you down.
Terence: I host 106th & Park and it’s really enjoyable for me. I always wanted to sing or rap or do something like that but I was never able to do those things. So I ended up being on TV, kind of in the industry and that goes to show you might not be able to get exactly what you want out of life meaning some people wanted to play basketball and may not be able to go into the NBA like D. Wade or Zo but there’s so many different opportunities in the industry. You could be a broadcaster, trainer, publicist, you could be so many different things, you could be part of the team. So once again whatever you want to do in life just keep on going for your dreams but getting that education is what’s going to really be valuable in you being successful regardless of what you do. I ended up on TV by mistake, I never grew up and said I want to be a DJ when I grow up it just kind of happened and I’m really blessed to be here and meet you guys today.
Tamekia Flowers-Holland: That’s another thing, I’m glad you brought that up, he does one thing but he’s not afraid to try something else. A lot of times you just fall back on one thing but diversify your skill sets, diversify your interests. You’re doing things; look into other things, that’s how you can really find out what it is that you have that true passion for. There’s nothing wrong with that.
Alonzo “Zo” Mourning: Each and every one of you all in here has a talent, regardless of if you know it or not right now. You have a talent and it’s up to you to educate yourself and find out exactly what your talent is. Terence said he didn’t know exactly what talents he had but he was persistent in trying to figure out, this is my big chance, I’m going to go here, I’m going to go there. I’m going to drive here, I’m going to drive there, I’m going to make the sacrifices I need to make in order to put myself in the position where I can find out, what am I exactly good at. So as soon as he got his foot in the door, these opportunities opened up for him because he worked his butt off, he continued to put himself in positions but all in all, it tells us educate ourselves in some type of magnitude, you’ve got to get some type of education. And I’m not saying you’ve got to run off to college and get a college degree and everything, which would be great obviously, but you’ve got to get some form of education. You’ve got to read up on certain stuff, you’ve got to learn different things. You’ve got to understand that the only way to even get somewhere, that I have to do something to get there. It’s not just going to fall from the cracks alright. I have to be an active participant in my success. I can’t wait on somebody else to do it you’ve got to do it.
Tracy Mourning: My children are my inspiration. My children make we want to know more and learn more. They teach me things that I don’t even want to know, and by my children I don’t only mean the two that I’ve given birth to I mean my children, my girls, you all, that inspires me. I know that I’ve been blessed all my life, God is so good, He’s blessed me all my life, but I know it’s not just because. He’ s blessed me because I have a responsibility and I have work to do. I just don’t want you to ever give up because things are going to get tough. Life is not easy, it’s going to get tough, you’re going to have challenges all your life but don’t give up. You can’t live your life in fear afraid of trying things, you must move forward in faith. So instead of living in fear, please live in faith and never ever ever give up, it’s too much work to do. You have a responsibility all of you to see where you can make a difference for someone else. So please don’t ever give up.
Lauren London: I’m going to give you the same advice that I keep telling myself, I tell myself every morning be patient with yourself and embrace where you are. I just want to say keep going, but be patient with yourself, on your pace, and love yourself.
Gabrielle Union: It’s about being better today then you were yesterday; it’s all about evolution. If you were a “C” student yesterday be an “A” student today.
Judge Hatchett: If there is no limit, sky is the limit on what you can do with your life, what is your dream for your life? Close your eyes and count to three. If you could be anything in the world you want to be? I want you to hold that dream and don’t let anybody or anything get in the way of your dream, not the haters. This is your homework assignment, I want you to go home and I want you take a piece of paper, and I want you to write in big letters what that dream is. Then I want you to ask your parents permission to get four thumb tacks I want you to tack it up over your bed. Why, because I want it to be the first thing you see every morning when you wake up, and I want it to be the last thing you see every night before you go to sleep. You will remember the day when you tacked on that ceiling, when you’re delivering babies in a hospital 15 years from now, you tacked up obstetrician. When you win a championship ring you will remember that you put up pro baller; a journalist when you win a Pulitzer Prize. It’s real, because in our community I started this whole posting a dream theme all around the country, because we have got to be in the business of posting our young peoples dreams.
Dwyane Wade: To our young Black, beautiful women, to our young Black strong men, one thing you have to do in life, there’s many things, but one thing you have to do, you have to believe in yourself. If you don’t believe in yourself there’s no one that can believe enough in you so if you want to succeed in life, you want to succeed in anything, it comes from the inner and then it comes outside. So look at a mirror everyday and say “I believe.” Thank you.
Alonzo “Zo” Mourning: Anytime we have an opportunity to do this, this is truly a blessing, not just for you guys but for us, because we are able to use our blessings and our experiences as tools for you all to take out of those doors and use them for the rest of your lives. Use them to build; we’re giving you tools to build, all the information and all the things that you’ve gone through, we’ve gone through. So those experiences that we’ve had, we’re giving them to you providing words of wisdom so that you can take with you and build your own lives, become productive citizens. We all want to see each and every one of you become productive citizens and run this world. You will be our leaders, truly our leaders, so stand on that information as you go out and you accomplish all the goals that Judge Hatchett just said that you’re going to write on that piece of paper, go out and accomplish those goals, use these particular tools. I love each and every one of you like you are my own. I want to see each and every one of you all accomplish all your goals, that’s the purpose of this session right here. Please take all the words that we said, take them with you and use them in your lives. Remember what I said, in order for good things to happen in your life you’ve got to surround yourself with good people. God bless you all.
Truly an insightful and motivating day, some teens shared that they learned, “Be true to yourself. Never give up. Don’t disgrace women. Be you. Be different.”
Please check the video for more highlights of this spectacular event.
By Jennifer Safara Perry
Infinitely wise beyond his 21 years, Chris Paul, last season’s NBA Rookie of the Year and point guard for the New Orleans Hornets, has a 6’1” frame and a heart beyond measure. A leader both off and on the court, he hasn’t forgotten where he came from and has vowed to take care of his beloved Winston-Salem, North
Carolina community, as they have supported him his entire life.
By now you’ve probably seen the headlines and heard the hype, “Everybody Loves Chris” or “Chris makes those on the court with him look better.” This time you can actually believe the hype and then some. Those who originally doubted CP3 would flourish at Wake Forest University or survive in the NBA have long since converted to believers. Yet life has had its challenges.
Chris reflects,“On November 15, 2002, my life was changed forever when my grandfather was tragically murdered in his own driveway. His name was Nathaniel Jones, but we called him Papa Chilly, and he was so much more than a grandfather. I considered him my best friend. Papa Chilly was a generous man who always
saw the good in people and put others’ needs before his own.”
Philanthropy is important to Chris. Along with his CP3 Foundation, last year Chris was excited to help fund the renovation of the basketball courts at the Rupert Bell Recreation Center in East Winston-Salem, and give out Thanksgiving food baskets and bikes as Christmas gifts to those in need in Oklahoma City. This year he is extending his holiday giving to the Triad and New Orleans. In the spirit and memory of Papa Chilly, Chris recently hosted the inaugural Chris Paul Winston-Salem Weekend, which raised $156,000 for his CP3 Foundation. It was truly a team effort and the hard work paid off.
Say It LOUD! traveled to North Carolina to cover this monumental event which included a community youth forum, gala, youth basketball clinic, celebrity bowling tournament (with professional bowlers and fellow NBA stars including Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, and LeBron James), community church service
and church social. We also had a chance to catch up with the entire Paul family (parents Robin and Charles, big bother CJ) who are instrumental in every aspect of Chris’ life. We’re sure you will be as inspired. Read on and check it for yourself.
SIL: Who are your inspirations?
Chris Paul: Definitely, my parents and of course my grandfather. I think my grandfather gives me so much strength. Whenever my back is to the wall and I feel like I can’t do something, my grandfather comes to my mind and tells me, ‘You never quit up to this point, so why stop now?’
SIL: I understand it was teenagers involved with your grandfather’s tragedy and they were charged as adults. They are now paying the
price for that.
CP: It was five teenagers that murdered my grandfather. They were 14 and 15 years old. The thing was if they would have asked my grandfather for it, he would
have given it to them in a heartbeat. My granddaddy never worked for anybody. He owned the first Black owned service station in North Carolina, he just helped
everybody. People would come by the service station all the time and say, ‘Mr. Jones, I don’t have the money to pay for gas right now, can we come back and pay
you?’ Nine times out of ten people didn’t come back and pay my grandfather, and he didn’t hold a grudge, because he was just all about helping others.
SIL: How did the CP3 Foundation start?
CP: Right after I decided what agent I was going with and the agency, we had a meeting. They asked me if there was anything on my
mind, anything I wanted to do to give back. I told them immediately the first day I wanted to set up a foundation, and I wanted it to benefit my community, the city that raised me.
SIL: How is it maintained?
CP: I have a panel, a counsel which is represented by Skip Brown. He has a bank back home and is a Wake Forest alum. He played basketball at Wake. My high school principal is on the panel, also Mayor Goines, Jeff Lassiter, who is involved with Wake Forest, my brother, mom, dad, and Nick Shaw. They meet once or
twice a month on different things we can do for the foundation.
SIL: What’s your role?
CP: I’m the facilitator. I’m involved with all the decisions that are made. If I’m in town I come to the meetings. My job is to come up with ideas to keep moving forward, doing new things. Just like for “The Weekend” I try to think of different events and people that will make “The Weekend” a success.
SIL: What were the highs and lows of the First Annual Chris Paul Winston-Salem Weekend?
CP: To tell you the truth, I don’t think there were any lows.
SIL: I agree.
CP: The weekend was a success. Everyone who told me they were going to come to support the weekend, they showed up. We had a great time. The bowling event went great. I think the best part of the entire weekend was the church service. I’m just glad that everyone who stuck around tried to stay for the church service
because without God, the whole thing wouldn’t have been possible.
SIL: At the church service you mentioned that Dwyane Wade made it clear of all the events that weekend it was most important to him to attend that.
CP: Yeah, I told DWade that was huge. When everyone called and said what events they could be a part of, D-Wade made it clear that he wanted to be at
the church service. That meant a lot to me to know how he feels spiritually.
SIL: What were some accomplishments for the weekend and the foundation?
CP: I think it did a lot for the city. A lot of those guys who came in had never been to my home town, they now know where Winston-Salem is. They came and made their mark on the city. Just everything for the foundation, monetarily wise, the weekend was a success, but at the same time I think it made more people
aware of it, and that can always help.
SIL: In addition to sending a student from your hometown of Forsyth County to Wake Forest University on a full scholarship, (Nathaniel
Jones Scholarship) what other projects do you see the foundation getting involved with?
CP: Those are things that we’re meeting about and discussing now. With it being our first year, we want to do as much as possible, but at the same time we understand it’s a process.
SIL: You left college early after your sophomore year to go pro. What message do you have for youth that are still in school?
CP: It starts now. Don’t wait until you’re a junior or senior in high school or college to start getting into the books. It starts right then and there. You have to focus and get good grades. Although I left school after two years, I’m in the process now of finishing up my education. I understand that basketball is not going to be
SIL: How have you been able to maintain your humility in a league where it sometimes disappears over time? People always have such wonderful things to say about you. What is it that helps you maintain that humble spirit of yours?
CP: I realize that I just play basketball, nothing more nothing less. You can’t take it for granted. God forbid, knock on wood, I could break my leg tomorrow. It would be maybe a few months or so that people talk about it, but I mean I’m just a regular person. You have to enjoy it while you’re in it, but at the same time
you have to remain humble because a lot of times people feel like they’re going by people on their way up, but you’ll see those same people on your way down.
SIL: As far as Hurricane Katrina, you are on a New Orleans squad and said previously, ‘You can rebuild a house, but you can’t replace
people.’ You laid it on the line with that.
CP: That’s one thing about that hurricane. You can rebuild a house, but you can’t replace people. New Orleans won’t be the same unless the people come back. They’re talking about rebuilding different things, but the most important thing is to get the people back in their homes.
SIL: Any final comments for our SIL readers?
CP: God bless and always believe in yourself.
SIL: Thank you. I was honored to be part of your inaugural Chris Paul Winston- Salem Weekend; it was such a spiritual, positive and inspirational event.
CP: No doubt, thank you very much.
For more information on Chris Paul and his CP3
Foundation, or to make a donation visit
By Jennifer Safara Perry
SIL caught up with Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard, Josh Howard, Brandon Bass, and Byron Scott at Chris Paul’s CP3 Foundation’s Charity Weekend. See what thoughts from the court were dropped for our SIL readers:
DWYANE WADE – Miami Heat
While the Chicago Bulls were Dwyane Wade’s favorite team growing up, and Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen were his favorite players, today, judging from his top selling #3 Miami Heat jersey and all the people proudly rocking it, D-Wade is the people’s champion and heir apparent to the throne. Drafted 5th overall by
Miami after playing for Marquette University, his favorite movies include He Got Game, Boomerang, Love and Basketball, and Remember the Titans, and favorite actors are Denzel Washington and Omar Epps. In one of his recent commercials, the 2006 NBA Finals MVP said sincerely, “My dream is to leave the world a better place than I found it.” Fortunately, DWade is well on his way. Above and beyond basketball and all his accolades, his young son Zaire is his pride and joy. See how Wade excels, fires it up, and brings the heat both on and off the court.
SIL: What brings you here to North Carolina?
DW: The number one thing that brought me here is my buddy Chris Paul. Anything he has I’m going to try to come out and support it, but also it’s for charity he’s giving back and it’s great to see someone who gives a lot give back. I’m just coming out here to support him as much as possible.
SIL: You’ve won a championship and were the MVP of the NBA Finals. Where is there for you to go from here?
DW: Oh I need more, I’m a winner, you know. I want to win. I’m looking forward to coming back this year and seeing if we could do it again. We’ve got the same team back. This will be my first time playing with the same team since I’ve been in the league.
SIL: I know that’s got to be a good feeling.
DW: Yeah, it’s a great feeling you know, so I’m excited.
SIL: So what do you have to do to defend the title?
DW: We’ve just got to be prepared every night to come out. People are going to try to attack us every night because we are the champs, but we’ve just got to be
able to withstand all that and when its money time we know what to do. We’ve done it before, so go do it.
SIL: You, LeBron and Melo all came into the NBA at the same time. How did you guys go all the way around the world and come up with a bronze medal in the FIBA World Basketball Championships last summer? Help us understand that one.
DW: I I I don’t know.
SIL: Stuttering right...
DW: We went out there and we competed hard. I mean the team that we played had to play phenomenal to beat us. A lot of things had to go their way and it did.
They wound up beating us, but you know it ain’t the end of the world.
SIL: Do you think the fact that the NBA has so many international players now that they’re used to playing at a certain caliber?
DW: They’re very good players, but what makes them real good is that they’re good team players. They know the team concept very well, kind of the way the game started in the NBA a long time ago. These young guys have been playing together for nine, ten years. This is our first year playing together so we’ll be alright in 2008.
SIL: What is your advice to teens, not necessarily on the court, but off the court in life?
DW: My main advice that I try to give to kids and teenagers is any goals that you have in life, or anything you want to do in life, you’ve got to really believe in yourself. Some people are going to tell you you can’t do it. Some people are going to tell you its impossible, but I’m a living testimony that it’s very possible if you believe in yourself, put a lot of hard work in; I mean more than just the norm.
SIL: You have maintained your humility throughout…
DW: Well I appreciate that first of all, and I always promised God when I was a kid that if He ever gave me the opportunity to do something great in this world, that I would try to be the same person I’ve always been with it. He’s given me this great opportunity so I’m trying to do what I told Him I was going to do and be good at it.
SIL: How is fatherhood?
DW: Fatherhood is great, it’s the best thing in the world, better than any MVP, any championship you can win. Regardless, when I come home and my son’s there win or lose he’s got the same attitude. He’s got a lot of things to learn from me and it’s just great, so I love being a father.
CARMELO ANTHONY – Denver Nuggets
After leading the Syracuse Orangemen to their first ever NCAA Championship in 2003, and earning the tournament’s Final Four MVP honors, Carmelo Anthony went pro after his freshman year. He was drafted in the 1st round, 3rd overall pick by the Denver Nuggets. Melo made some loud and proud guarantees
to Say It LOUD!, shortly before he picked up a turkey (3 strikes in a row) at Chris Paul’s Celebrity Bowling Tournament. Although he lights it up on the court, he handles his business off it too and built the Carmelo Anthony Youth Development Center in his hometown of Baltimore, Maryland. Engaged to Alani
“Lala” Vasquez, an MTV personality, they are excitedly expecting their first child next year. Read on for Carmelo’s words of wisdom and to find out what he
assured the SIL crew.
SIL: What brings you down here for the CP3 Foundation?
CA: I’m down here for my man Chris Paul. That’s my young rookie. I had to come out here and show him some support. I had a real busy schedule, but I told him
if I could take out my schedule I would come down here and support his charity and foundation.
SIL: I’m trying to understand how with all this talent you guys came home from the FIBA World Basketball Championships with a bronze medal, please help us understand that?
CA: You know what? It was one of those days where you couldn’t do nothing. Regardless of what we did, they did a little more than what we did. It ain’t over. We still got ’08 in Beijing.
SIL: Was this a better experience for you than playing with the 2004 USA Olympic basketball team or a different experience?
CA: It was a better and different experience for me. I was one of the main focal points over there so you know it’s kind of different than ’04.
SIL: What are you expecting from your team this year? What’s going to happen? Can we get a little further please?
CA: Oh yeah we’re out the first round, I’m guaranteeing that.
SIL: Is that right?!
CA: Yeah I’m guaranteeing that. You can put that in Say It LOUD! I’m saying it loud and proud. We’re out the first round this year.
SIL: And if not?
CA: Then I gotta send you a present. I don’t know what I’m going to send you yet, but I gotta send you something. (Melo, let’s just hope it’s some second round or further tix for Denver’s sake!)
SIL: What is your advice to youth?
CA: Just stay focused, that’s my primary thing. Kids come up to me all the time and ask me for advice. As a kid, kids are going to be kids. It takes a long time for a kid to grow up. They’re gong to get in trouble, they’re going to make mistakes, but at the same time you’ve got to stay focused.
SIL: How do you stay humble with everything going on around you?
CA: I’ve always been humble, I‘ve always been down to earth that’s how I grew up, so I gotta stay humble and don’t forget where I come from.
Josh Howard – Dallas Mavericks
SIL: What brings you here this weekend for the CP3 Foundation?
JH: To support Chris Paul for his foundation, and to bring some funds to the community of Winston-Salem
SIL: What are your expectations for your squad this year?
JH: To win those two extra games we needed to win last year to get that NBA Championship.
SIL: What happened?
JH: We just lost that game, ran out of gas I think.
SIL: If you got that far and ran out of gas, what do you do to ensure that does not happen again?
JH: Make sure I got all the newspaper clippings with all the reporters and the fans hatin’ on us. Read it everyday.
SIL: How do you maintain humility in an environment where many times people lose it?
JH: Not too many people can do this job, you know what I’m saying. So for me to be one of those guys that can do it, I mean it’s a blessing, so I don’t worry about
what nobody else says or thinks about what I’m doing.
SIL: What is your advice to youth about life?
JH: Regardless of what everybody says, like as far as you can’t do it, you can do it, because I had a lot of people try to tell me I wasn’t going to be good, because I was skinny. I didn’t weigh nothing, but look at me now.
SIL: So did you take that to heart or did you use that as fuel?
JH: As motivation, yeah. They don’t know me, for them to be talking about me like that, you know what I’m saying. So I’m not taking it to heart.
SIL: It’s like them telling Chris Paul he’s too short.
JH: Yeah, all day and you see what he does, and he has a big heart. That’s all that counts right there.
Brandon Bass – New Orleans Hornets
SIL: How has everything been going this weekend?
BB: Everything’s going great, it’s a wonderful thing. It’s always good to give back, so that’s why I came down.
SIL: What are your hopes for next season?
BB: Playoffs at least.
SIL: What happened with the meltdown at the end of the season?
BB: Ahh, it be like that sometimes, you know, stuff happens, but playoffs at least this year.
SIL: How is it playing under Coach Scott?
BB: It’s been good. On our team everybody’s got to be tough, Coach makes all of us be tough. He kinda brings old days to us.
SIL: What’s your advice to the youth?
BB: When you get to a certain level, give back, always look back. If you’re playing sports, whatever you’re doing, just go hard and try to be the best.
Byron Scott – Head Coach New Orleans Hornets
SIL: …Expectations for your team this year?
BS: I think the inexperience, I tried to stress to the guys at the All-Star break just how tough it was gonna be and how important it was for us to come out ready each and every game, and I think until you experience that and go through it you never know what it’s really all about and I think the experience of us not getting to the playoffs, but having some very meaningful games at the end of the season is going to really help us for this year so I’m excited about this year. We’ve added some of the things that we thought was necessary for us to get to the next level which is size and speed, some guys with some defensive presence, rebounding and things like that so we’re really excited about this team.
SIL: Do you think you’ll be back up and running full fledged anytime in the next year or two?
BS: No, we don’t know. We’ve just got to wait on the league, Mr. Stern, they’re going to take a real good look at the whole situation and hopefully December or
January they’ll let us know what’s going to be happening for next year.
SIL: How was it coaching in the transition, in the midst of the life and death situation?
BS: It was tough because of all the fans we have in New Orleans, not knowing what was going on there, and then having to relocate. I think the thing that helped us was that we were just kinda together as a team, and our families were all together. That kinda helped the transition a little bit, but we all wondered what was happening with our friends and families in New Orleans as well.
Dwight Howard – Orlando Magic
SIL: What are your expectations for this season?
DH: I just hope we make the playoffs this year, and just looking forward to a wonderful and fruitful year for my team, without any injuries. Hopefully we can stay
healthy the whole year and we can win this thing.
SIL: What is your advice to youth?
DH: Make sure you have your priorities straight. My priorities, God is always first in everything I do, then it’s my family, then it’s my career.
SIL: What are your thoughts about the CP3 Foundation weekend?
DH: It’s a great weekend that Chris put together, and I’m happy for his foundation. He’s starting off the right way, by coming out and helping the community that helped him.
By Jennifer Safara Perry
From the playing field to coaching on the sidelines, Coach Herman Edwards shared some inside and important information with us about the NFL and life skills, both on and off the field. Once a defensive back for the Philadelphia Eagles and former NY Jets head coach, Say It LOUD! got down with a Coach Herm Edwards exclusive, and had an exciting experience. It was so good we had to share it. We hope you enjoy the wisdom Coach Edwards imparted on us!
SIL: What is your coaching philosophy?
It’s very simple, treat everyone fair but don’t treat everyone the same. You want to create an environment where everyone has an opportunity to be successful. You want to have great communication between the coach and players. I’m the type of coach where I’m not really a football coach, I’m a life skills coach. If you can make young people better and make them understand the importance of life and things they have to do correctly in life, they will be good football players. I handle it that way rather than just talk about football, it’s more about life, living a life of integrity and character, doing the right things on purpose.
SIL: You’re one of six African-American head coaches in the NFL…
It’s an honor. There were a lot of guys that came before us that paved the way and didn’t get the opportunity to become head coaches. Now we have an obligation as head coaches to always try to help others as we continue to strive in this direction. That’s what life is about, when you have an opportunity
make sure you don’t forget where you came from, but have a helping hand to lift others up. Hopefully 10 years from now there will be 16 (coaches), and that’s headed in the right direction. Our league does a great job of trying to set a standard in sports to show we’re trying to give everyone an opportunity.
SIL: What about more Black owners?
You’re right, there really haven’t been too many Blacks owners. There are some partnerships, but there hasn’t been one official owner yet. There are only 32 teams and there are some Black business people that would like to be owners, but it’s a hard deal to get involved with ownership. You have to go through the right channels and hopefully one day there will be a Black owner.
SIL: What do you do when you’re not coaching?
I’m a dad, believe it or not, and I have a son, Marcus, who’s going to graduate this year at San Diego State, a football player. We had a baby girl named Gabrielle, she’s 6 weeks old and I have a lovely wife. I go home to California and we do a free football camp for a week for 800 kids. We’ve been doing that for 10 years, it’s a unique camp in Monterey Peninsula. We have an organization called The Youth Foundation; it’s been in existence for 20 years. It’s more than a football camp, its a life skills camp that ranges from ages 9 to 17. Call the Jets if you’re interested and they will give you the info. Girls are involved too.
SIL: Let’s talk about the Black Quarter Backs of today, they used to make them play other positions…
That’s where our league has evolved. I came into the NFL in 1977 as a player, and the league was probably 25% maybe 30% Afro-American players. Now when you look at the league it’s flipped, it’s around 75% almost 80% Afro-American players, so the league has switched and also certain positions have switched too. I don’t think we look at any position in this league anymore of color, we look at it as the best player to get you the best opportunity to win, that’s why you see it in the quarterback position. It all stems from college football, then it transfers up to our level.
SIL: Who are your inspirations?
Growing up it was my parents; they were good role models, in the athletic world, Muhammad Ali and Jim Thorpe. I was in high school in 1968. Young kids don’t know about the 60’s, that’s history to them. They read that in the history books, but I grew up in the time the desegregation program came into effect. I was in a
busing program. I actually got bused to a different high school. Our nation was changing then, Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr. and others had to push for equal education and opportunities for “minorities” and I was involved in all that.
SIL: Do you have any advice for teens that would like to play football?
You have to work hard, no one’s going to give you anything. You have to believe in yourself. It’s very important to choose your friends, don’t let them choose you, and make sure they have the same mindset you have. That’s key because all of a sudden if you’re popular you’re going to have a lot of friends because you’re popular and that’s not always good. Do the right things on purpose, be positive.
SIL: How do you try out for an NFL team?
You have to go through the channels of getting through high school, if not you have to go to junior college. You have to get a tryout and that’s tough. There are 11,000 seniors that come out of college every year that are eligible for the NFL draft. Only 320 get drafted, and about 175 make it, that’s how hard it is. It looks easy on television, but there are only 2,200 professional football players in the world. It’s very difficult, and that’s okay, but you have to understand that. That’s why I say you have to have your priorities right, you have to be committed to something. You have to be committed and understand your goal and how to go about accomplishing that goal, you have to have a plan.
SIL: What other careers are there in professional sports?
Management, or you could be a trainer, doctor, lawyer, general manager, scout, coach; you can do whatever you want. Whatever you apply yourself to you can do it, but you’ve got to believe you can do it.
SIL: You are a member of the Fritz Pollard Alliance, which ensures equal consideration for all league job openings for people of color, what is the progress?
Fritz Pollard got nominated into the Hall of Fame this year, and that’s great. The alliance is doing a great job with the league, and the league is working with thealliance, it’s going to continue to do well.
SIL: I know we’ve talked about football, but something that’s on everyone’s mind is Hurricane Katrina…
My concern is a lot of money is being funded to different organizations, and that’s great. I’m just a little nervous, I want to make sure the person that’s making
$20,000 a year, that really needs the money is going to have access to it. I hope whoever is handling that, they see fit to that, because I think our country will get money, but it’s the person that really needs it. We’ve got to make sure that family gets it.
SIL: Anything else?
No you guys have covered it all. It’s been nice talking to you. Don’t give up on yourself, you’re doing good, you hear me?
SIL: Yes Coach Edwards. Thank you Mr. Edwards. See you in the Super Bowl.
*****This article was written prior to Coach Edward’s
joining the Kansas City Chiefs.