In 2000 I moved from Albany, NY to Baltimore, MD. I worked as a counselor for young men who were being released from a youth detention center to a community based foster care program. I dealt with some of the most ruthless young men in the city. From drug dealers and murderers, to want to be drug dealers and murderers. It wasn’t an easy job. It was joyful, painful, physical and emotional. It was difficult to you watch young African American men becoming institutionalized from the age of 12. They thought it was cool, but in reality it signified the regression of young black men in America. I don’t want to get to deep here, it’s a story for another day, I just needed to paint a picture while adding a little social commentary.
Needless to say we needed tough counselors, strong counselors, counselors from the same neighborhoods as these kids. In 2001 we hired a counselor by the name of Carlton. He was about 6’6″, about 300 pounds, rocked a gold tooth; yeah he was about that life! At the time I coached the basketball team for the program. Carlton would come in and assist. These kids were aggressive, from time to time we had to jack a couple of these guys up! Well, I mean…. “we had to execute a therapeutic restraint”.
Carlton frequently spoke to me about his trips out of town with his AAU team. He was especially proud of this one kid he coached that they called “The Big Stat Sheet”. He was said “Yo Sim, this kid is a beast! His name is Carmelo, but we call him “The Big Stat Sheet”. He told me he was going D-1 without a doubt and Syracuse was probably his first choice. I mean, I heard this same story so many times, I didn’t think anything of it, my response, “aight that’s wassup”. One day after practice he asked me to come coach with him. He wasn’t the head coach, he was an assistant, but they had just lost an assistant coach and needed someone to take the spot. I told him I’d think about, but I kind of knew I couldn’t. He kept asking and nagging me, “You got to come see Carmelo!”. I lived an hour away, and after coaching the kids at the program, and then coaching his team, I wouldn’t get home till 10 P.M. every night, so I told him I couldn’t. I mean I had a wife and kids at home right? RIGHT?
Carlton left the program a few months later. Me? I forgot all about Carmelo, “The Big Stat Sheet”. Then in the spring of 2002, while relaxing, watching the McDonalds All-American Game, I seen some kid named Carmelo Anthony from Baltimore Md. in the finals of the slam dunk contest. I jumped off my couch, eyes wide open, jaw dropped! “Holy —-!”, is all I could mutter. Then I thought, “nah that’s ain’t him, this kid probably isn’t even going to Syracuse”. Then what pops on the screen? “Carmelo Anthony – Committed to Syracuse”.
I was dumb founded! I had the chance to coach this kid! I mean how could I blow that opportunity! I continue to follow his career. He goes on to win the national championship at Syracuse, lead Denver to the playoffs, become a superstar, star in Melodrama, and eventually star for the Knicks. You better believe I was hyped during Melodrama. I even hit up Carlton and told “Yo you need to hit up Carmelo and tell him he needs to get to the Knicks!” Carlton never hit me back on that, just invited my team to an AAU tournament :/
Always, I’m always like “Damn! I was Oh so close to coaching Carmelo”. SMH