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 counseling real drug dealers and murderers, to wanna 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, strong counselors from the same neighborhoods as these kids. In 2001, we hired a counselor by the name of Carlton. He was about 6'6"and 300 pounds and he 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 so from time to time we had to jack a couple of these guys up! I mean.... we had to execute a "therapeutic restraint".
Carlton frequently spoke to me about his trips out of town with his AAU team, the Baltimore Select. He was especially proud of this one kid he coached he called "The Big Stat Sheet". Sitting in front of a wall dawned with Carmelo Anthony newspaper clippings from the Baltimore Sun; he said "Yo Sim, this kid is a beast! His name is Carmelo, but we call him The Big Stat Sheet, you gotta see him!" 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 kind of shrugged it off, my response, "aight that's wassup". One day, after practice he asked me to coach with him. He wasn't the head coach, he was an assistant, but said they could always use the help. 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, 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 in the finals of the slam dunk contest. I jumped off my couch, eyes wide open, jaw dropped! "OH ----!" is all I could mutter. Then I thought, "nah that aint him, this kid probably aint even going to Syracuse". Then what pops on the screen? "Carmelo Anthony - Committed to Syracuse".
I was dumbfounded! I had the chance to coach this kid! I mean how could I blow that opportunity! Un-freakin-believable! So I followed his career. He goes on to win the national championship at Syracuse, lead the Denver Nuggets to the playoffs, become a superstar, star in Melodrama and eventually become the franchise player for the New York Knicks. You better believe I was hyped during Melodrama. I even hit up Carlton and said "Yo, you need to hit up Carmelo and tell him he needs to get to the Knicks!" Carlton never hit me back on that, he just invited my team to an AAU tournament 😒
Always, I'm always like, "Damn! I was Oh so close to coaching Carmelo".