Cousins was not done, though. He made Leonard unconformable by not leaving him any room to land on another jumper after returning, causing Leonard to throw up his arms toward the referee, showing his discomfort. “I haven’t seen the video of it, I’d like to peak at it tomorrow, it’s not that big of a deal,” Leonard said, trying to be diplomatic. “I did feel a little more uncomfortable after the second one just because it had just happened.”
Needless to say, it was a big change going from selling drugs to flipping Whoppers. The day I was arrested at school, I had $1,200 cash on me. Suddenly I was making minimum wage and wouldn’t come close to seeing that kind of money after a month’s worth of mopping floors and working the grill. Caron Butler: It took time to adjust to this new lifestyle. I saw guys rolling around in new cars, having new clothes, new Jordans — reminders of all the things I couldn’t afford. Old “friends” would come in and make fun of me because of my uniform. But I knew I couldn’t go back to jail — no matter how tempting the lure of quick money was. At Bray Community Center in Racine, where I first started playing organized basketball, there’s a photo of 21 black men, many of whom I used to run with. All were under the age of 25, and now they are all dead. I knew I had to turn my life around.
It’s been 20 years since I spent two weeks alone in that 10-by-12-foot cell, but I remember it like it was yesterday. My mother and I reflect on our times of adversity all the time. To recognize the delta between where we are now and where we once were — it’s surreal and it’s a blessing. Now I speak about my journey to younger generations who are at-risk because I was them. I didn’t have an easy, structured upbringing and then suddenly became an NBA All-Star and champion. I’ve spent time in jail. I lived in a neighborhood infested with drugs and gang culture. I grew up seeing people get stabbed and shot. Despite all of that, by the grace of God, hard work and the devotion of my mother, I’m in the position that I’m in today. Younger generations need to see a real, tangible example of making it.