As I play my last season in the NBA and look back on my career, it feels right to take a moment and go back to where it all began for me — to my hometown of Inglewood, California.
Growing up in the inner city, it’s easy for kids to get drawn into the negativity that’s all around them. Back when I was young we couldn’t afford gloves, so we couldn’t play baseball. We didn’t have money to buy helmets, so we couldn’t play football. So it was all about basketball. Rogers Park, our neighborhood court, was the place where I learned how to play against older kids. The most valuable lesson I learned there was how to get back up after getting knocked down — because the big kids weren’t going to help you. Recently, I returned to Rogers Park (and also to my old school, Inglewood High) to get reacquainted with the places where I got my start in life.
I’ve heard someone say that a man makes a name for his city. But for me it was just the opposite: Inglewood made a name for me.