In an exclusive interview with EBONY, the NBA All-Star discusses several key moments of his life, such as his bouts with depression, the steady stream of losing loved ones, and of course, his relationship with longtime friend LeBron James as well as what he and the Lakers are cooking up for folks this season.
EBONY: So Carmelo, what made you feel as though now was the right time to do a memoir?
Carmelo Anthony: I just think it was time. Time will tell you what to do, tell you how to move, how to operate, what to do, what not to do. And I couldn’t go against that. When I speak of time, it’s perfect for me to tell that story. If you have a better understanding of this story, you will understand even more who I am today.
In your book, Where Tomorrows Aren’t Promised: A Memoir of Survival and Hope, you detail the loss of lives around you—whether it be a cousin, a friend, or your stepfather. You write about how difficult a time it was for you.
That was probably the worst time of my life, ever. It was so many lessons in that. I lost a cousin. I lost my stepdad. I lost close friends and other friends. It was disappointment after disappointment after disappointment. Every time I felt I was getting around that curve ... I lost them. That disappointment starts to set in. You turn cold after that—you have no more feelings, no more emotion. You don’t know how to express yourself, so you compress it— keep it inside because nobody wants to hear that in those environments. It’s sad so you have to deal with it on your own.
You also address some of your bouts with depression, too.
We didn’t know it was a thing called depression. I didn’t understand that. I didn’t know that. I just knew the rules of survival, the rules of the hood, the rules of the block. Now, it’s so many resources for mental health. It’s easier to talk about your depression. You have people who come back and aren't afraid of being vulnerable and talking to people, and aren't afraid to reach out for a hand. But back then, you couldn’t do that.
One of the strongest themes in the book centers around loyalty. Can you elaborate on that?
That’s the gift and the curse of loyalty. Family, that’s a no-brainer. Loyalty to family over everything. When we say we love somebody, we give them that. That was something that I always stood on. It comes with growing up in those environments. Because you know if you’re not loyal to somebody in the streets, there’s consequences and repercussions that you have to suffer from for that. And you don’t want to have to deal with that. It becomes second nature to you. It’s hard. It’s a thin line between that loyalty and love.
Speaking of loyalty, your relationship with LeBron James has been as Teflon-tough as they come. What has kept you guys so tight for so long?
We go back (to when we were) 15, 16 years old. We never had to force anything—a conversation, being around each other. It just happens so organically with us. We put an oath up, no matter what happens, we would never let any outsiders come between us and put any BS in our friendship. I could knock your head off on the court; you could knock my teeth out on the court. It don’t matter. When we get outside that rectangle, we’re brothers— no matter what anybody says. And, we stood on that. And to this day, we stand on that. Nobody will break that bond.
You join a star-studded team in Los Angeles that includes LeBron James. The biggest knock anyone has about your team is your collective age which ranks among the oldest rosters in NBA history. Your thoughts on the criticism?
We knew that. We expected people to say those things; they have to. They have to start a debate, get engagement from people; that’s what it is. This is the only industry where you can be too old. After you reach a certain age, it’s like you’re supposed to lose everything. After 32 years old, it’s a wrap. Like, no. We’re getting older, we’re getting wiser. We know how to move differently, we know how to think differently. We know how to pick our spots and we know what we need to do when we need to do it and how we need to do it. It’s like .. you go to an Italian restaurant, you got the grandmother in there who's 900 years old cooking the food. The food comes out amazing, though. You’re not gonna say she’s too old to be cooking. You’re gonna taste and enjoy that food. It’s the same situation with us. We’re the cooks in the kitchen. When you taste the food, you’re gonna love the food. That’s how I look at it.
This interview was edited and condensed for clarity.