How Carmelo Anthony Stays On the Ball
The NBA star scores points for his team and for young people following in his footsteps.
Carmelo: Family Life, Foundation Work
Off the court, Anthony spends time with his wife, Alani Vazquez Anthony, better known as La La, and their 6-year-old son, Kiyan Carmelo. Both Anthony and his wife, an actor, keep busy schedules, and time together does not always come easily, he says. But as with his game, he does the work that any healthy marriage requires.
"Communication is key, and you have to put a lot of effort into it," says Anthony. "We're both always on the road, always working, but we always have some form of communication, whether it's FaceTime, Skype or texts, phone calls, emails. That's what keeps us going."
As far as Anthony has come, he has not forgotten his roots. "Melo has always wanted to give back, to give kids a safe place to play and stay active," says Asani Swann, executive director of the Carmelo Anthony Foundation, which was founded in 2005. Six years ago, Anthony committed $1.5 million to reopen an East Baltimore rec center much like the one he frequented growing up. Renamed the Carmelo Anthony Youth Development Center, it provides educational and nutritional programs, healthy meals, homework assistance, and, of course, basketball.
"It's tremendous that he is giving back and providing hope to these kids, who really look up to him," says James Piper Bond, president and CEO of the Baltimore educational nonprofit Living Classrooms, which partnered with the Carmelo Anthony Foundation to reopen the center. "The kids really benefit from the support that he's agreed to give, and they depend on this center, which serves kids with a real need for a safe place to be after school." Anthony visits several times a year, especially in the summer, to meet the youngsters, play pick-up games, and show them what they can achieve.
"The most important thing is to let them know that there's such a thing as belief and hope and dreams, that dreams can come true," says Anthony. "I was one of those kids running around the rec center. It was a lot of hard work, but my dreams came true."
Anthony's foundation has also partnered with a foundation started by his former Syracuse University coach to form Courts 4 Kids, which builds and refurbishes neighborhood basketball courts in disadvantaged areas of Syracuse, N.Y., and Puerto Rico. He also has been involved with NBA/WNBA FIT, a program that encourages kids and families to be physically active.
After an amazing decade in the NBA, Anthony -- who just secured his first career NBA scoring title in April -- shows no signs of slowing down. He predicts he'll play another 8 or 10 years before retiring. He stays busy off the court. In addition to overseeing his foundation, he's produced movies, designed shoes, and guest-starred on the Showtime series Nurse Jackie (as a baseball player). "At the end of my basketball career, life will just be starting for me," Anthony says, adding that he may contemplate a return to college. "But right now it's basketball. I love what I do, and I love the fact that every day I have a chance to get better at something I love to do and have the opportunity to grow. That is important to me, that pushes me, that motivates me."