The ‘Dream’ Life

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Anthony Carter Gives Back to the Group that Helped Him

PERHAPS BETTER THAN MOST, Anthony Carter knows about the importance of dreams and having someone believe in you. The former University of Hawai’i point guard grew up in an environment where most of his male family members went to prison and drug dealers wagered on his playground basketball games. When he won, which was often, the money helped put food on the table.

With 13 people living in his grandmother’s small house, any additional funds were a blessing. Alva Carter worked two jobs and it was never enough.

“Every one of them were in and out of prison, and about four or five out of seven were on drugs,” says the current New York Knicks guard about the men in his life. “My grandmother had to raise all her grandkids and she had seven kids of her own. We were living in a two- or three-bedroom house, sleeping on the floor, wherever we could find space. I think she did a great job of raising us.”

She most certainly did.

Although many people in his situation turned to selling drugs as a quick way to fight off poverty, Carter had seen what drugs can do to a family and was determined not to fall into the same trap as his mother and some of his Kirkwood, Atlanta neighborhood teammates. When he wasn’t playing basketball for money he mowed lawns and cleaned up a local barbershop in an effort to help out his family.

“At that point it wasn’t about disappointing my grandmother because everyone in my family had already disappointed her. I just knew I didn’t want to follow in their footsteps. When I got the chance to go back to school, that’s when I didn’t want to disappoint her.”

It is because of her selflessness and the dedication of I Have a Dream Foundation staff and volunteers that the 36-year-old is determined to return the blessings he has received.

“It’s all about giving back to an organization that helped me get to where I am today,” says Carter, who since 2003 has been the organization’s national spokesman. “I grew up just like a lot of these kids or worse, and I didn’t have anyone to look up to until I met the I Have a Dream people. I want the kids to know that I was a high school drop out, but I got a second chance and that as long as you follow your dreams it can come true. I’m living my dream.”

And he’s helping to keep the dream alive in others.

In 2002, four years after he left the Manoa campus, Carter returned with a $100,000 donation to create the Anthony Carter Men’s Basketball Scholarship Fund. Again, it was his opportunity to give back to those who helped him. A year later, his then-employer, the Denver Nuggets, honored his philanthropy with the Chopper Travaglini Award for community service-the team’s annual award for service beyond self.

After 11 years in the NBA, the married father of two is as active in his community as ever. He often takes his children along with him to his speaking engagements and fundraising efforts because he wants them to see how important it is to give back and to realize how hard life can be for some children.

Carter says that when he speaks to kids, the most important message he can share is that regardless of how difficult life may seem, someone cares and is willing to help. He found this to be true in the form of Atlanta businessman and I Have a Dream treasurer Llew Hayden, who to this day remains a friend, mentor and father figure.

“The only way I can repay him is by doing the right thing and going back to talk to the kids. He was a big influence on my life, and he just wants to see kids have success in their lives. I feel that now I am speaking for him and sharing what he taught me.”

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