Without taking anything away from Lance’s on-court game (the video more than justifies that), we thought it appropriate to re-run this bit about Lance’s off-court life.
by Ben Osborne
Excerpted from SLAM 100
Off the court is always the tougher thing to gauge, especially when evaluating a kid who doesn’t have his driver’s license yet. To reporters, he comes off as shy and soft-spoken, but he never lacks for confidence and he says all the right things about wanting to get good grades and stay out of trouble, neither an easy feat in a high school and neighborhood that have only recently begun recovering from decades of neglect.
Easily the biggest expert on this part of the story is Lance Sr., also known as Stretch. The father is an emotional bear of a man, with a loquacious nature that more than makes up for any introversion on his eldest son’s part.
Walking near the recently rented home he shares with Lance, his long-time wife Bernadette and their newborn second child, Lantz, the 36-year-old former high school and small college player makes it clear who will be calling most of the shots during the next few years of his son’s career.
“I’ll be traveling with Lance to all the tournaments he plays in,” Sr. says. “I can’t believe some of the people that parents trust to make decisions for their kids. I hope things work out for them, but if things are gonna be fucked up, it’s gonna be on me. We’re gonna make the decisions and see what happens.”
On a local level, Lance Sr. still remembers seeing Donnie Marbury work Stephon out. “Then I got to watch Danny [Turner] push Bassy through,” Lance Sr. says. “They did it in the neighborhood for all to see. And to see the end results, it’s like, it paid off. Lance has got the frame, so I just gotta keep him straight. A lot of the kids his age got records already. Not to say you don’t need some police force out here, but they’re going too far as this place changes. I just tell Lance, go to the gym or to a friend’s house, but no walking around or hanging on the corner because they will get you. I know, because they’ve gotten me for a lot of stupid crimes. Loitering in the building, drinking a beer, just dumb stuff. That’s how Coney Island is now.”
Stretch continues. “Here’s the thing with Lance: When I look at him as a coach, he’s amazing. We work on everything together. Then, as a father, that’s the fun thing, because I know what he’s doing. He’s not gonna be out, hanging out. We stay on the road and outta the hood because of all our games. And when we are home, Lance just chills; he’s tired from all the games.”
To hear Lance Jr. put it, there’s already enough excitement surrounding his games to keep him satisfied. “I like all the attention,” he says. “I like when people see me and say, ‘Oh, that’s Lance.’”
Good thing he likes the attention. It’s not going anywhere.