Saturday , Aug , 28 , 2004 C.Y. Ellis

Baron Davis: Hornets #1 is One in a Million

Telling Baron Davis’s story is a joy, a pleasure, and an honor for me to relate in this feature on his personal side outside of basketball. Because for as much game as he has on the court, his game off the court is as strong as any I’ve ever seen, period. Sitting in the Santa Monica Community College gym rapping with B-Davis on a mellow Tuesday in early August you see the kids at his camp are learning b-ball techniques and morals galore, and everyone is having a good time. I talk to Baron’s former Crossroads high school coach named Daryl Roper who also used to teach him back in the day as a youngster, in our conversation he gives out an image of Davis as someone who started caring about people at an early age, “Baron has been a giver since the age of 13, he even turned in a paper to me as an 8th grader on his own that laid out this ornate plan to help all types of people in his life, Baron is just an ‘old soul’, that special someone who just spreads joy and knows their purpose in life is to make a difference for others.”

Baron Davis: Hornets #1 is One in a Million

Besides coming to meet Baron for this interview, I belong to a group of people that celebrate great role models who are high profile basketball players. Last year, it was the University of Arizona’s Hassan Adams and his mom Connie getting the Mentor of the Year Award for their help in providing SAT prep to kids in L.A. S.L.A.M. stands for (Study, Learn, and Mentor) and is dedicated to Scoop Jackson and his writing for SLAM magazine, the board members of this group like Danny Felix who owns the Pro Image clothing shop in Ventura, Felix is a great mentor in his own right and was jazzed about selecting Baron to receive his jersey plus the certificate of merit while stating about Davis, “Baron is the ‘real deal’ it was a no brainer for us to select him as the best role model to promote for the S.L.A.M.”

The world knows B-Davis for his muscular frame, his eye popping NBA stats, and flashy dimes to fellow NBA players- but this feature will let you know about the “real B-Davis”, you’ll leave knowing more about that “giver” side of Davis that gets so little pub that good role models in the world deserve. To find out even more about Davis check out his personal website called to view in-depth interviews on him, you can also check him out in a Scoop Jackson interview with him in this month’s issue of NBA Inside Stuff Magazine.

Talk to enough people in Davis’s life and you’ll start to hear about the “good works” he does for others in the community, his list of accomplishments off the court is impressive- and they should be documented to remind us all how much difference one person can make. For example, Dino Smiley who is the director of the famous L.A. Drew Basketball League for the past 20 years that has featured players such as Paul Pierce, Gilbert Arenas, and Cedric Ceballos in the Drew has watched Baron Davis grow up for past 15 years, it was in this league that is as competitive as the Rucker League in the NYC that Davis grew to be a better baller and person. With that said, Baron looks at the bleachers at the gym last year at Drew Middle School and knows they need to be updated: he pays to get them replaced because it’s the right thing to do, Baron knows without anyone having to tell him that it’s cool to give back where to where you came from.

Smiley has been a tremendous mentor to many kids in L.A., he shared with a very personal story of generosity about Davis that just floored me, “Last summer we gave out a scholarship to a great 13 year old kid named Anthony to participate in Baron’s camp in Santa Monica, this kid has that same love for the game that Baron used to, Anthony happens to be a skinny kid full of life who is growing up in the same neighborhood that Baron used to, he really idolizes Baron. Unfortunately, both Anthony and Baron you could say were caught up in very sad circumstances in that life that the streets they grew up on were not always easy or kind to either of them growing up. You see, Anthony and his mom were homeless last summer and living in their car, so when Anthony got the chance to get away for a few hours a day and go to the camp it was as Anthony told me, “pure gravy and a dream come.'” When Baron heard about Anthony’s unfortunate situation it reminded him of his own hard times growing up, he was touched very deeply by Anthony’s situation, Baron went out and got Anthony and his mom off the streets and into a hotel, all on his own he helped them find housing and a job as well- that’s Baron Davis for you, he does a lot of that stuff that no one ever finds out about.”

Giver. That’s the word that describes Baron Davis to so many of his friends. I was sitting down talking to current NBA Memphis player Earl Watson at Baron’s camp, Watson is Baron’s UCLA teammate from back in the day who really wanted to communicate his thoughts in this feature on his good buddy, “Baron, he saved me from going back home to Kansas my first year in college, he and his whole family took me in and just made me feel special and wanted. People need to know that Baron is a blast to be around, also they should realize how incredibly smart he is also, he can have a very high level conversation with you on so many different topics other than just basketball.”

Dashan Harris Sr. is Baron Davis’s Basketball Camp commissioner and has been a good friend of Baron’s for years, Harris helped try to guide the impressionable Davis as he played in college for UCLA and enjoys helping out Davis nowadays with the camp. Fortunately for his son, Dash Harris Jr. is getting some awesome mentoring in return these days from B-Davis. The younger Harris is attending the same Crossroads h.s. that Davis went to and should be commended for pulling down a 3.2 g.p.a. in hard college prep classes one should add, Dash is a real up and coming 6 foot point guard with tremendous ability, this 14 year old rising sophomore has a thousand watt smile as he states about Davis, “I really look up to Baron, he’s just cool to hang out with, he’s always honest with people and I think that if I can be like him than good things will happen to me as I grow up.” Baron Davis is impressed with Harris Jr.’s game and comments on the youngster, “Yeah, Dash Jr. is a good kid, he works hard and isn’t afraid to be that player he wants to be, I really enjoy helping him get there.”

Integrity. That’s what Baron Davis shows when he helps instruct kids at his camp, you’ll see kids from every economic background and ethnic diversity learning from each other at his camp, you can see the great impact he has on all the kids as he tells them through speeches that they should “do their best to live out your dreams.” Kids look up to Davis, but they seldom play around with him too much because they know he represents focus, determination, and opportunity at this camp- they’re here to learn in these sessions, if they start to mess around or bounce the balls off the walls there’s that “tough love” side of Davis to remind them of the right way to do things, he realizes that kids need rules and structure to be successful in life.

Lucky for the world, there is someone named Baron who wears the number 1 for his team, Davis treats everyone he meets in life like the number on his jersey. I just got done talking to your old Crossroads high school coach who told me you had a vision to help youngsters since the 8th grade, could you elaborate on that?
Baron Davis: Earlier in my NBA days I was trying to build my career and build who I am. It was just trying to maintain things, now it’s all about trying to help benefit the kids who grew up in the neighborhood, to teach them to have an overall goal to succeed. What are some things you want the Baron Davis fans out there to know about you?
Baron Davis: That my heart is pure, that I’m dedicated to what I do in life – that I enjoy helping people. You were helped along in your h.s. AAU career by mentors like Thaddeus McGrew, and you blossomed with his help as did Paul Pierce, are you trying to replicate that effort in these youngsters?
Baron Davis: Most definitely, I want to be that guy who is there for kids, if I die broke I will always have that satisfaction of doing things for kids in my life. We’re doing a team diary here at on Master P. and his AAU team, any comments about P. Miller and his kids?
Baron Davis: There’s a good guy who is providing kids with an opportunity, shaping those kids to be better people is his goal, he just uses basketball to do it- that’s just the right way to approach kids, sometimes by sharing your love of basketball they get the message. Thanks for doing the interview for us, congrats for being the Mentor of the Year for the S.L.A.M. group- and of course for being real with these kids.
Baron Davis: Thanks for the SLAM jersey and the award, we’ll see you later.