With the basketball season in full swing, NBA All Star and New York Knicks Forward Carmelo Anthony took time to give some assists off the court, as well. Aligning his organization, The Carmelo Anthony Foundation, with Feed The Children and Avon Beauty Products, Anthony headed to a middle school in Harlem, New York to give out food to over 800 families from all over the New York area. Joined by his teammates Iman Shumpert and Samuel Dalembert, EBONY took some time out with Carmelo to hear what drives him to be such a voice in the community, and what it means to be a self-proclaimed “Digital Athlete” in 2014.
EBONY: With you being born in New York and growing up in Baltimore, both very urban cities with their own issues, how has that made you into the man that you are, and how does it affect the charitable work that you do?
Carmelo Anthony: It helps me understand that we need to help the communities that really need the help, rather than the ones that may not. It’s a part of who I am as a person, growing up in these places, that allows me to know that we have to reach back and touch our communities whenever we have the opportunity to do so in an impactful way. It’s something that I always see myself doing. Partnering with “Feed The Children” and Avon on this was a great honor, and I’m happy to have the Carmelo Anthony Foundation a part of this.
In today’s sports world, athletes are as marketable as the teams and sports they play. Gone are the days of branding partnerships like Michael Jordan and Gatorade or Magic Johnson and Converse, athletes are now turning to start-ups and tech companies for their new investments. As someone who considers themselves a “digital athlete” in 2014, how do these initiatives that you get involved in help in your philanthropic work?
CA: One of my first tech companies that I invested in was Orange Chef (a Smart Kitchen and nutrition company), so we’re looking to turn all kitchens into Smart Kitchens. So whether that means we use Orange Chef to bring in a chef to help feed these families in need, or rather than just give them the food, we provide the food and healthy recipes to prepare it. My ventures basically allow me to do what it is that I like to do, and that translates in my efforts to help others in the right way.
Being based in New York now, do you find it difficult to reach back to Baltimore with events and initiatives like this during the season?
CA: It can be tough, with the planning, the travel, and the lack of time. But my family is still in Baltimore, so I make sure that they can help take care of the community while I’m up here. They actually have more of a sense of the pulse of our community than I do with me being in New York. So I let them lead the show out there while I’m working through the season. But those streets, those neighborhoods made me who I am, so there’s no way I won’t reach back to help them whenever and however I can.
So we all know the saying “The game doesn’t last forever.” As someone who came into the league after your Freshman year at Syracuse, and with the influx of the “One And Done” players who spend one year in school and make the leap to the NBA, what advice would you give these young players when it comes to making the right investments and opportunities that don’t pertain to basketball?
CA: Nowadays, the opportunities are there for them, even more than it was when I came into the league. To be able to get into whatever interests you as a young athlete is a great opportunity. I’d tell them that in whatever they decide to look into and put their time and money in, do some research first. Make sure it’s something that you know about thoroughly before you make that leap, feel comfortable with it, and don’t let anyone force you into doing anything you don’t want to do.
Cory Townes was born and raised in Philadelphia, and currently lives in Brooklyn. A devout Philly sports fan, Townes is the Social Media Manager for EBONY.com. When he’s not cheering for his Philadelphia Eagles or creating musical playlists for the people, you can reach him on Twitter @CoryTownes.