On his ME8 Foundation:
I do it really for the kids and my organization, which [targets] breast cancer and underprivileged kids. I go back, I give a check every year to the cancer foundation. I give a scholarship to a kid to Jackson State. Then, I just do school giveaways. I have my little camp. It’s something I always said I was going to do when I got big because a lot of people didn’t do it. Me growing up, I knew guys that were from there, but never came back to show that love to their city or their community or to their kids, I wanted to change that, so that’s why I did the ME8 Foundation and tried to work it that way.
Lindsay Hunter and Erick Dampier used to come back and do camps, but I couldn’t afford them, so that’s why mine only costs $45. Then, if some kids can’t go, we give out at least 10 to 15 free camp registrations.
On being a role model to kids:
It’s different, but it’s also a great feeling because you’re doing the right thing. They see that this is the right way of doing things, just life period. I know when I see most kids, they don’t just compliment me about my basketball, but those young kids, it’s crazy when they talk to me about ‘the way you act’ and this and that, and it’s touching. And another side of it, when you have your own son, then you’re trying to set an example for him anyway. And then, with my son being named after me, I don’t want to mess up his name by something that his father does. So, I try to—try—my hardest to do the right thing the majority of the time. If I do [something] bad, I’m not going to do [something] bad in front of him. But it’s great because I was in those kids’ shoes one day, looking up to somebody from the neighborhood or from the state. It’s great because some kids, like me, I didn’t have the opportunity to meet an NBA player. When I was coming up, I didn’t meet Lindsay or Erick Dampier until I got in the League.
On how he’s changed since coming into the League:
I would say, shoot, being a father and a husband. That’s a different chapter, but it’s also a great chapter. That’s probably the biggest thing to me since I got in the league. Got older.
I was raised in a household where I was raised by my grandparents. So, my grandparents have been married 40-some years. So, that’s all I know. When I get in a relationship, it’s being committed. Don’t get me wrong; relationships weren’t like marriage. When I got married, it was a different thing. This is who I’m going to be with for the rest of my life. This is my soul mate, this is my love and that’s the biggest thing. You’ve just got to compromise and work together.
This is my actual home, but I’ve got a house in Mississippi, too. We’re back and forth. We just get more peace out here because my family’s big and I don’t see them very often, so when we go out there, it’s all just them. But when we’re here, we can just chill and don’t really worry about anything. Her family’s here [Memphis], but they’re still not going to come out here.
On being parent during the season:
It’s hard, but they’ve got so much stuff nowadays, they make it easy for you. You’ve got Skype, you’ve got FaceTime, so it really isn’t as bad as it used to be. [Before], you just used your phone. Now, you can look at them on the computer like you’re really there. That’s the good part about it, but it’s hard and that’s another reason why, in the offseason, I just sit at home. I travel too much during the season. I don’t want to do anything. I’ll drive up and down the road, but flying, I’m not going anywhere.
Anywhere I go—Jackson, Atlanta, Texas, New Orleans—anywhere I go [in the South], I’m driving. I want to drive to Carolina.
On the lockout:
To be honest, I’m good. I’ve been preparing for it for the last few years. Then, I’m steady getting blessed every day. God, He continues to somehow find a way to send me something I need, so I’m pretty straight right now. My daughter’s (3 months old) healthy. My son (2 years old), he’s good. My wife, my family, everything’s in order. I don’t really have any complaints. I just hope it’s over sooner than later.
On playing in summer leagues or going overseas:
Not me. Nope, not me. The only thing you’ll see me doing is doing what I’m doing, in the weight room and then, I have a trainer come here, I do my little court work, and that’s it. That’s how I stay the whole summer. I don’t play pick-up ball, I’m not fitting to go overseas, talking about playing. None of that.
I don’t play any pick-up because when I first got in the League, before my senior year [of high school], I broke my wrist playing pick-up ball—I had to get pins in it—so I never played pick-up ball again. I don’t do it. I just do my individual workouts.
We’re definitely going to do that when it’s time for us to train, but other than that, if it’s not with my teammates or my organization, I’m not playing pick-up ball.
Aggrey Sam covers the Bulls for Comcast SportsNet Chicago.