NBA Star Aims To Inspire Young Readers With 'Slam Dunk' | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

NBA Star Aims To Inspire Young Readers With 'Slam Dunk'

Amar'e Stoudemire is known as "STAT," an acronym for "standing tall and talented." He's an 11-year-old basketball player who wants badly to learn how to dunk — that's Amar'e the character, anyway.

In real life, Amar'e Stoudemire — who is also nicknamed "STAT" — is the captain of the New York Knicks, a six-time NBA All-Star and a man who can definitely dunk a basketball. On top of being a star athlete, a father of three and an activist for education, Stoudemire is also the author of three books for middle-school readers. The younger Amar'e is the star of the series, which explore the life of STAT when he was already talented, but not yet tall.

In the latest in the series, STAT #3: Slam Dunk, Amar'e deals with teasing from his older teammates. Then he suffers an eye injury and a doctor tells him to avoid practice for a week — the week before his team's biggest game. Amar'e must decide how to meet his obligations to his teammates, friends and coach, while also spending time with his family and taking care of his health.

Stoudemire joins NPR's Scott Simon to discuss his motivation for becoming an author and the message he wants to send with his novels.


Interview Highlights

On his childhood in Florida, the inspiration for the series

"My father was a hard-working man, and I grew up with him. And my friends, I was very close to all my friends. And all this is also inside the book series. My brother ... he taught me basketball moves. Book reports [were] very important, I had to turn in and make sure my father — make sure he understood I was making the proper grades. But yeah, I mean, my childhood definitely [had] some challenges, but all in all it was a great success and it was a lot of fun."

On the lessons he outlines in his book

"[It's] very, very important for the young boys to understand that being smart is very cool and that there's nothing wrong with being smart and intelligent. And two, for all the athletes, for most of the young boys who love to play sports, there's going to be challenges also, whether it's injury, whether it's schoolwork, whether its friends or peer pressure. You have to surround yourself [with] positive friends to have a successful start to your early career."

On why he writes for young readers

"A lot of young boys are starting to shy away from reading as if it's not cool, so I wanted to express ... how important reading really is to them. I remember when I was their age, going to the bookstore I went to, the first book that had any type of athlete on the book — whether it was Jackie Robinson or whether it was Bill Russell or what have you — whatever book I saw that had an athlete on it, you know, I bought that book and I read that book, and then that started to spark my mind to want to read more, so I want that same effect to continue on."

Copyright 2013 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

No Small Feat: The NBA's Shortest Player Never Gave Up

At 5 foot 3, Muggsy Bogues holds the record as shortest player in NBA history. Criticism of his height started on the basketball courts of the Baltimore projects, and continued well into his career.
NPR

Tracing A Gin-Soaked Trail In London

Around the world, new gin distilleries are popping up like mushrooms after a rain. NPR traces the boom to its historic roots in London, which once had 250 distilleries within the city limits alone.
NPR

Ranting And Throwing Papers: An Angry Candidate Runs For Congress

State Rep. Mike Bost's rants on the Illinois House floor are the stuff viral dreams are made of. Bost says he has good reason to be upset, and wants voters to share his anger.
NPR

Israel's Solar-Powered 'Trees': For Smartphones And Community

The man-made trees are designed to create a public space where people can gather and re-charge a battery — their own and their smartphone's.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.