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Father knows best: NBA dads offer insight for community

Lance Stephenson Sr., father of Indiana Pacers guard Lance Stephenson, speaks with Eric Hicks of Game Over Inc. during the skills portion of the event.
Photo by Andrew Ross
By Troy Mauriello

Just days ahead of Father’s Day, Queens fathers were given a gift from their community that will stick with them, and their children, for a lifetime.

The Father’s and Men of Professional Basketball Players group presented a special skills session and discussion at Renaissance Middle School in St. Albans June 15, titled “Raising Strong Sons: A Pre-Father’s Day Discussion.”

Led by the group’s president, Charles Paul, father of Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul, the members gave local fathers insight into how they were able to raise sons that excelled not only on the court, but off it as well.

“All of the energy, you could just feel all of the energy that’s in here. So I know the boys are definitely going to make it and get something out of it,” Renaissance Principal Harriett Diaz said.

Also in attendance was Lance Stephenson Sr., whose son Lance Jr. grew up in Brooklyn and attended Abraham Lincoln High School before becoming an NBA mainstay with a number of teams, including the Indiana Pacers. Marvin Williams Sr., father of Charlotte Hornets guard Marvin Jr.; Elfrid Payton Sr., father of Orlando Magic guard Elfrid Jr.; and Anthony Randolph Sr., father of Anthony Jr., also spoke during a roundtable discussion.

However, it was Rod Ivey, a page designer for TimesLedger Newspapers and the father of former NBA guard Royal Ivey, who played the biggest role in putting the event together. Ivey has been a part of the group since shortly after its inception eight years ago.

“Once I found out about them, I joined, because we agreed that the perception of African-American men in general was that they weren’t around,” Ivey said. “So we said, ‘We are around, we were around, here we are.’”

Ivey’s son Royal attended Renaissance Middle School before moving on to Benjamin Cardozo High School and an eventual NBA playing career. Royal now is an assistant coach with the Oklahoma City Thunder after he retired from basketball in 2014.

“When we say, ‘Here we are,’ people listen because of our sons. So there’s a lot we can do if we learn how to do it correctly,” Ivey said on the group’s impact.

The evening began with a skills session that gave the 20 middle-schoolers in attendance a chance to work with coaches from Game Over, Inc. Eventually, parents were brought out as well to participate in a shooting contest.

Events then traveled to the school’s cafeteria, where members of the group spoke about how they raised their professional athlete sons. The panel discussion was led by Rev. Dr. Alfonso Wyatt.

With the NBA Draft fast approaching, the fathers were naturally asked about their experience leading up to their son’s selection. Paul offered up a word of advice for the 60 fathers who will hear their son’s names called this month’s NBA Draft.

“Take it slow and pay attention to every detail,” he said. “Enjoy, and keep it as simple as you did when you raised your child. The parents are going to have to get used to their sons being on a high level. So they’re going to be criticized about everything, every missed layup.”

By the end of the evening, Ivey was recognized for his efforts in putting the event together. Appreciation could be felt not only from his fellow group members, but from community members as well.

“We truly believe in it, because it’s community,” Diaz said about the group.

“And we’re a community school. If you don’t open your door to the community, then nobody knows you have a great school.”

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