I know that it’s been a tough, sometimes even dark year for all of us. So, I wanted to jump back on here and share a little bit of light. Here’s some news that made my heart soar.
Let’s take it back to when I was living in San Francisco, playing for the Golden State Warriors.
There was a family living in my apartment building that had won their place through a public housing lottery. The matriarch of the family was named Ms. Cee Cee.
Life had given her a few tough breaks, and even though she was fortunate to win her apartment, she still didn’t have much furniture. The first time that my brother and I were invited to Ms. Cee Cee’s, all she had were two chairs. And here’s the thing, man…my brother is a 300-lb. Football player. So, let’s call it one chair, hah!
None of that mattered, though.
Ms. Cee Cee was excited to cook for us, and that was like our winning lotto ticket, hah. The food was really, truly that good. I had a plate full of fried chicken, greens, mac & cheese and a turkey leg. And all that with a touch of what she called “Slap Yo Mama” sauce! It was the kind of homemade meal we all dream of. And even though I’m not new to the NBA, this was my first time living in San Francisco. Most of my people were miles and miles away. I quickly appreciated Ms. Cee Cee like she was family.
Then we met her son, Lynn. He may be a bit young, but Ms. Cee Cee says that he’s been the man of the house for a while now. Lynn didn’t seem particularly anxious sitting in front of two professional athletes. When I first meet people, I try to stick by a golden rule: normalize myself and introduce who I am as a human being. I know that many people see me as an NBA player, but I’m a man with regular problems and priorities, too.
Lynn asked us questions like, “how does it feel to take care of your family? How many hours a day do you work on your craft? When did you know your purpose?” I was impressed, and I was excited thinking about how I could help this dude. I could see it in his eyes: he wanted to succeed, he was ready to make his mom proud.
We wrapped up dinner, thanked Ms. Cee Cee, and headed out. Before we left, Ms. Cee Cee had one request: she wanted us to spend some more time around Lynn. Ms. Cee Cee had to work all her life and Lynn didn’t have any brothers & his father wasn’t in his life. She hoped that he’d get something valuable from grown men with careers and vision. I took that as a tremendous compliment.
Later, I’m swiping my key card to give Lynn access to the 32nd floor of our building. Where I was staying. The San Francisco skyline lit up his whole face. Even though S.F. was his city, he had never seen it from a view like this. I felt humbled and thankful for my crib. We watched football on the big screen and chopped it up some more. I learned who Lynn really was. His father was not involved in his upbringing, and his life’s goal genuinely seemed to be in support of his mother and sister. At one point that night, Lynn told us, “mark my words, when I become a father, I’m going to BE THERE. Like y’all.”
A few weeks after that conversation, I got another call from Lynn. It turns out the man was inspired to go get a job, and would be starting trade soon as a full-time electrician! My brother gave me that look…he knew that I was eager to start a foundation, and he knew that I wanted to leave a meaningful legacy for my daughter Ariana. Ms. Cee Cee’s family would be the perfect place to start. After all, I could barely rest over the idea that they were sleeping on the floor.
I partnered with a local furniture store three weeks later.
We surprised Ms. Cee Cee with a shopping spree to get whatever she needed for the apartment. At first, I told her that we were just getting lunch. When our car dropped us off at the furniture store, she started crying! We left with 26 different pieces of furniture, perhaps most significantly a bed for Ms. Cee Cee’s young daughter. It was all stuff that we take for granted, every single day. My perspective was completely flipped.
Naturally, it was a sad day in our building when I found out that I was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers. The doorman said he was going to miss me, and I got a lot of love from our diverse and supportive neighbors. But my mind was on Ms. Cee Cee, and on Lynn. I knew that there was a reason for everything, including this move, but I still worried about Lynn in his tireless pursuit to better his life. I wanted him to find that success he was craving.
Why do I bring all this up?
Well, when I got home from the bubble, I had to go through an insane amount of notifications on my phone! One message caught my attention right away, though. It was a text from Ms. Cee Cee:
“Glenn…thank you. I want to say, to you and your brother, that you changed my son’s life. When you mentor Lynn that day when you both came over for dinner you both changed my son life because his father never been in his son life however he had two mentors that gave showed him he had two strong brothers he can still beat the odds and be a great father like you and your brother. Me and my son wanna say Thank you to Ari Foundation and Strong Fathers like you and ur brother because my son is so happy to be a father and he cried to be in the labor room and watch his son being born. Thank You Ari & and Glenn for mentoring my son. Welcome Lynn’s son, baby Kingston. 8lbs 5oz, I’m a grandma, and I’m so happy.”
Lynn said “mark my words.”
Now, he’s a father. Baby Kingston. That’s how I know, Angels are Real Indeed. It’s the best news I’ve heard in a minute. I couldn’t possibly be happier.
To Ariana, and Kingston, and all the other Angels shining their light for us right now…a better world is possible, one family at a time. Legacy is a powerful thing, and this Foundation is still just getting started.
And to Grandma Cee Cee…save me a plate, and please add the “Slap Yo Mama” sauce!