Could you talk about your background, where you’re from?
I was born and raised in Brooklyn, raised in Crown Heights not too far from the Alumni boutique. My family is of Haitian descent and moved to New York in the late fifties...early sixties. I went to elementary, intermediate and high school in my neighborhood. Most of my experiences both good or bad come from growing up here.
Could you speak about the organizations you’re a part of and what you do?
As of now I’m currently providing my basketball and creative career experience to the inner city youth and young adults under a non profit. Apart from that, I have partnered with a long-time friend to create platforms for kids to display their skills or chase their dreams in many areas. My partner has his own brand as do I. Together we host community events and creative workshops. We develop b-ball skills and then we often invite influencers from footwear designers to hip hop artists, pro athletes and even the borough President to talk to the youth, to keep them motivated and inspired to be successful in any career they want to tap into.
You fill a lot of roles. You coach. You organize. You consult. You blog. All with a strong sense of community. Where does that value for community come from?
That’s a good question...great question. I’ve been about community since I was a kid and I experienced how the support of just one person can go a long way for a person. I’ve been a part of programs and love the energy shared in the room or on teams I played for. It gives many the confidence to be themselves when someone supports their ideas or even listens to a story.
If we had a multitude of communities follow the concept that one hand washes the other, we would all have better opportunities to evolve into well balanced humans.
Could you speak to the role of community during this pandemic?
Man, personally I’ve always kept a positive outlook on many things that happen to me personally and the world, just knowing or feeling at some point life will be better for many if we stick together and stay focused and productive.
Could you speak to the role basketball or sports played in your life when you were younger?
Easy. I was straight trash when I first was introduced to the game. I was very athletic tho, and back then the distractions were very minimal (video games, TV, phones) we played outside all day so a lot of kids were pros in elementary, especially kids I hung out with. So they often would talk trash and say I’m a bum. It was until one day I grabbed a rebound and the response was like, “Yoooo, he’s jumping so high.” Then I said I gotta take this seriously. But also, back then, there’s no quitting or complaining about bullying because you would be labeled that type everywhere you go.
Why do you coach?
Simple, I want to give back and make a decent living doing it. I believe we take from the universe we should give back to it. It’s a form of planting a new flower or tree when I develop a kid’s skillset or share my experiences and mentor them.
Could you speak about experiences of mentorship in your life? Either as a mentor or as a mentee?
Truthfully, I do not like to say I am unless it’s to document something like jotting down a profession on a resume. I just share my perspectives and advice but I would like for you to have your own experience as well and I, too, learn from you in the process.
Style means different things to different people. Many just want to look good. For some, it’s about aesthetic or ideological expression. Style can mean making it or faking it. What has style meant to you?
Style has definitely been a form of art or expression for me, like a way to speak without speaking. My short term goals are to live comfortably, stylishly and to give back.
Style is important because I admire well-crafted things, but it’s a form of giving back as well when I create something dope for others.
What brands do you think are doing good work in that space?
I would say #communitydrip and Alumni are starting to incorporate dual purposes into their line, with the black inventors collection and a few more I’ve seen.
What books, artists, podcasts, blogs, Instagram accounts, etc. should we check out?
As far as books, The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, Silent Power and Three Keys To Self Empowerment by Stuart Wilde. These books came to me at a time I was transitioning from a low vibrational point in my life. I’m a huge “conscious hip hop” Listener. I’m a fan of bars, so like Lupe is all time, right now Nick Grant, Rapsody, Ab Soul, Cyhi Da Prince, and a few more. Obviously Jay Z, Nas, Biggie, Snoop Dogg, Pac and more had a huge influence on how I view life or listen to hip hop. For podcasts, I would listen to Joe Rogan. He has a few interesting guests who are high profile and you would never think they would have dope perspectives on life. Joe Budden, not many really… I’m more on YouTube watching random hip hop battles or someone building homes in a jungle using all the natural elements around them. In terms of instagram accounts, @mknmvz @team_liveaction @sportredefined @vonlucasatelier @alumniofny @jaekicho @trustforpublicland.