There is a persistent myth surrounding the NBA, its players and the perceived lack of fathers in their lives.
While it is certainly true that there are some NBA players that grew up without a father, many did grow up with their fathers, and these men were critical to the players’ success.
The Undefeated’s Marc Spears held a roundtable discussion with Wendell Carter Sr., father of Bulls young big man Wendell Carter Jr.; Tee Morant, father of Grizzlies rookie Ja Morant; Winston Garland, former NBA player and father of Cavaliers rookie Darius Garland; and Charles Paul, father of Thunder superstar Chris Paul to discuss Black fatherhood and the challenges of raising NBA players.
Being a young Black NBA player has its benefits and its burdens, just like anything else. The money, freedom, and celebrity are wonderful, but it doesn’t change the fact that they are Black men in a country that is, at best, unkind.
Despite athletic prowess and notoriety, the fear of their sons being pulled over by law enforcement is all too real for these NBA dads.
“Just pull over and do what he says,” said Charles Paul on what he told a young Chris about interactions with the police. “We talk about our young boys being scared, I have to watch myself. It ain’t just the young...it’s about being Black.”
We know the statistics, we hear it regularly or see it play out right in front of our eyes. Black people are 2.5 times more likely to be killed by police than White people.
A horrifying reality for any father. Darius Garland’s father, Winston, went through role playing scenarios with his son to prepare him for the day he’s ever pulled over.
“We would role play. Here come the sirens. OK police, what do you do? ‘I reach to get my license.’ No! No! You show him your hands.”
A blunt and sobering reminder of how Black people are viewed by police.
As Winston retells the story, you could see Wendell Sr. recoil and mimic the motion of showing your hands.
You could at once see the fear and panic and then the instinctual move to correct that any parent would show.
The conversation ranges from the joys they have for their sons and their advice, as well as words of wisdom.
Yes, there are some players who didn’t grow up with their fathers. But these young men did, and their fathers are shining examples of Black fatherhood.