The Hall of Famer, actor, producer, philanthropist and straight shooter gave Blitz Weekly a call to fill us in on what’s been going on in the life of a legend.
We hear you’ll be in Dallas later this month. Can you share with us the purpose of your visit?
I’m going to be there to speak at a conference on STEM education.
That’s awesome. How did you get involved with STEM Solutions?
Well, you know I just did a children’s book about black inventors and all the inventors that I talk about are mathematicians, chemists, engineers, and people of that nature. The whole idea was to give kids, minority kids especially, an idea of what they can do with their lives that has nothing to do with sports or entertainment. And for most minority kids a lot of times they feel as though those are the only two areas in which they can succeed.
So, what has the experience of being a Global Cultural Ambassador been like?
It has been pretty good. I have only taken one trip so far; I went to Brazil and talked about the value of education. Also, I answered questions that people had about what life in America is all about.
With everything going on in your life right now, do you have any interest in returning to the movies?
Well, I produced a movie on the Harlem Renaissance basketball team [On the Shoulders of Giants] and it was very well received and it has been a good experience for me. I wouldn’t mind doing that again if I got the right opportunity to tell the right story.
What brought about your interest in the 761 Tank Battalion?
My father, who was a policeman, was a good friend of a guy named Leonard Smith and“Smitty” was in the 761st Tank Battalion. I didn’t know anything about it when I was kid. It was not until some three years after I retired from playing professional basketball that I found out he was part of the 761st Tank Battalion and he had done some pretty remarkable things. They really never got the recognition that they deserved so having the opportunity to write about them and let everyone know exactly what they did for me was a great opportunity.
You have gotten the chance to be around so many amazing people including great athletes and individuals that utilize tremendous focus in their lives. Who has stuck out the most to you for their work ethic and accomplishments?
That’s a tough one. I have known great musicians like Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, Sonny Rollins, and John Coltrane. I also knew people like John Wooden and Bruce Lee.
Is there advice you can give Blitz Weekly readers about how to become more successful?
Number one: Knowledge is power. And number two: You don’t have to give up your dream. Always pursue your dream. Don’t let anybody tell you that it can’t be done or you’re not worthy of achieving it.