When American basketball star Carmelo Anthony arrived in Rio, he made it a point to venture outside the vicinity of the usual Olympic sites.
In a sit-down interview with Yahoo Sports’ Michael Lee, Anthony detailed his visit to the city’s favelas and how it compares to his experiences growing up in inner-city Baltimore and New York City.
“It’s a different way of living [in Rio],” Anthony said. “I say that because I’ve experienced living in the ghetto in the United States in Baltimore and in New York. The ghettos that are out here in Rio, it’s totally two different ways of living. The survival tactics, the mindset you got to have, there’s some similarities but it’s a big difference in how they’re living in a third-world country and how we’re living back in the States in our own ghettos.
“Global poverty is something that’s sad. It’s something that I wish everybody could see. I wish everybody could go there and see what it’s really like.”
Anthony, who is in his fourth Olympics, has used his platform as a star for the NBA’s New York Knicks to speak out on social issues. In recent months, he voiced his concerns about police shootings involving the African American community and called for athletes to take a stand. Anthony also was part of a moving speech with fellow NBA stars LeBron James, Chris Paul and Dwyane Wade at the ESPY Awards, urging athletes to speak out against violence and in support of black lives.
And when Anthony, 32, goes back into urban neighborhoods like his own, he says his message can really resonate with the people who live there because of his own experiences.
“You start realizing what’s important and what’s not important. When I was 19 and 20, and putting everything in perspective now, I was the guy who was back in my neighborhood and talking about this and talking about that. Fast forward to today, I’m still going back into those neighborhoods or my neighborhood and sending a different message now,” Anthony said.
“I was once there. I once experienced those situations. I hung out with those people. I know those people. Now I feel a connection where I can relate back to those people because it’s a respect factor now. Because they know that I was one of those guys. I think the respect level is that much higher now because I was once one of those products of our environment.”
Anthony is making an impact on the court, too. He is averaging 12.9 points per game during the Olympics and is looking for his third gold medal Sunday when Team USA takes on Serbia.
– – – – – – –