NBA player, native Memphian returns home to launch foundation, get married

NBA player, native Memphian returns home to launch foundation, get married

By Destiny Quinn MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) -

NBA Los Angeles Lakers player and Memphis native Tarik Black had an exciting day Tuesday.

The basketball player launched a foundation for the youth of Memphis and married his girlfriend, Kennedy Raye. The couple was married by Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland.

Black held a press conference to discuss the new “Tarik Black Foundation” and the inaugural TRANSFORMATION50 Basketball and Life Skills Camp.

Black said through mentors, role models, and family he was able to play professional basketball and play for the Lakers.

“We’re just going to go through the process of teaching the kids basketball, but as well as instilling in them life skills and skills that we need to move forward beyond basketball, their backup plan so to speak, as everyone says,” Black said.

Area coaches were invited to learn more about the camp and the foundation.

They were able to recommend players from their teams to the camp.

The camp will be held at Ridgeway High School. That’s the same school Black attended and graduated.

Copyright 2017 WMC Action News 5. All rights reserved. ORIGINAL ARTICLE

Tarik Black returns to Memphis to start foundation

Tarik Black returned to Memphis a few days after his most successful NBA season Black and announced the Tarik Black Foundation and the inaugural Transformation50 Basketball & Life Skills Camp.

, USA TODAY NETWORK – Tennessee Published 3:07 p.m. CT April 17, 2017

Long before he became the first Memphis men’s basketball in recent memory to transfer to Kansas, Tarik Black had two experiences that ensured he would eventually come back to his hometown.

The first was in 2007, when Magic Johnson came to Memphis and accepted a Freedom Award at the National Civil Rights Museum. Black still remembers Johnson’s speech vividly because the NBA Hall of Famer insisted basketball never defined him, that “he used it as a platform to give back.”

Then a few years later, when Black and his mom were late for church one Sunday, she elected to instead drive the Ridgeway High School product around the city. They went to south Memphis and north Memphis and everywhere in between, and Judith Moore’s message that day stuck with Black.

“Look at what we’re seeing right now riding around,” Black recalled during an interview Saturday. “These people need help. This is what your city looks like.”

It served as the initial impetus for Black’s return to Memphis this week, only a few days removed from the end of his most successful NBA season to date with the Los Angeles Lakers. On Tuesday afternoon, Black will formally announce the formation of the Tarik Black Foundation and the inaugural Transformation50 Basketball & Life Skills Camp for underprivileged inner city youth in Memphis during a 3:30 p.m. news conference at Streets Ministries on Vance Ave.

The camp, which will be free for 50 children of varying ages and skill levels based on an application process, is the first step in Black’s dream to give back to Memphis. He graduated from University of Memphis in 2013 with an undergraduate degree in organizational leadership and an emphasis on the non-profit sector. He also interned one summer with Ken Bennett and Streets Ministries, and hopes to have a similar impact on the city.

Black’s perspective changed for good once he elected to seek a graduate transfer at Kansas following the 2012-13 season. Though the decision proved unpopular with Tigers’ fans at the time, Black feels the experience of leaving home was essential for his personal growth. After thriving with the Jayhawks for one season, he landed with the Houston Rockets as an undrafted free agent and eventually signed with the Lakers in the middle of the 2014-15 season.

This past year, Black appeared in a career-high 67 games and averaged 5.7 points and 5.1 rebounds. He has a non-guaranteed year remaining on his contract and the Lakers have until July 4th to pick up that option. In the meantime, he’ll be exploring how to best serve Memphis through this new foundation.

“The mission is to provide life skills to inner city youth so they can come back and better their own communities,” said Black, noting the lessons he hopes to instill could be as simple as proper etiquette and writing a resume or as complex as figuring out the tax code.

“In the bigger picture, we want to run programs where we can take kids out of Memphis so they can see a different city. It opened my eyes that in Memphis I didn’t get to quite learn these things because I wasn’t around these people. We have people here that are very affluent but how often do we see them in the city? How often do they show their faces? How often do they teach us things and give back and reach out? I feel obligated to reach out and to give back and to take everything I’ve learned to give back and teach that.”

Black’s relationship with Memphis was awkward for a time. He still remembers being booed during his first NBA appearance at FedExForum. He was, after all, a Memphian who chose to leave Memphis following an NCAA tournament appearance, “and that caused some controversy,” Black admitted.

His return to town also comes just more than a week after brothers Dedric and K.J. Lawson followed in Black’s footsteps and announced their transfer from Memphis to Kansas. Black said he communicated with Dedric Lawson in recent weeks, particularly once the decision to join the Jayhawks had been made, in order to prepare Lawson for what lies ahead, both here in Memphis and in the plains of Lawrence, Kan.

Black thought about all those experiences since arriving in Memphis ahead of Easter weekend, just 24 hours after an exit interview with Lakers Coach Luke Walton, General Manager Rob Pelinka and Johnson, the basketball legend who initially inspired this latest endeavor. During that meeting, Black talked about how he had established a professional brand built on rebounding, defense and energy.

It’s a style of play that he first showed off in Memphis as a sought-after recruit, but Black knows he could not have delivered this sort of pitch a few years ago when he left the Tigers. Now, he hopes others in the community can learn from that maturation process.

“Maybe going to the university at that time wasn’t right for me, but at the same token, I wasn’t quite equipped to handle the pressures and things that came with the situation I walked into,” Black said. “My road has been kind of bumpy because there’s some things I didn’t understand. If I had somebody that came in, who had learned so much and could come back and teach me something, I would have really appreciated it.”

ORIGINAL ARTICLE

Master’s Degree Candidate Tarik Black Follows in Father’s Real Estate Footsteps

Master’s Degree Candidate Tarik Black Follows in Father’s Real Estate Footsteps

by  | 

At just five years old, Lakers forward Tarik Black started spending his weekends putting in a day’s worth of work. But it wasn’t on the basketball court or any athletic surface.

Tarik Black’s family L to R: Brother Bilal, father Lawrence, cousin Noah, brother Amal and Black. (Photo courtesy of Tarik Black)

Black was in houses painting walls, sweeping floors and ripping up carpets.

Along with his two older brothers, Amal and Bilal, and locals in the Memphis neighborhood, Black would assist his father, Lawrence, with his residential real estate business. He owned around 15 properties through the years. Black also spent time working at his father’s thrift store and subway shop.

During his childhood, Black would wake up at 8 a.m., and Lawrence would prepare breakfast for family and friends in the area. Then they’d all hop on the back of his truck and arrive at a house at 9:30 a.m. There, they’d work through the day until 7 p.m. Sometimes, they’d go until midnight or visit two homes in one day.

At the end of the grueling outings, Lawrence would give his youngest son and the others $5 each for their efforts.

“We would go to the corner store and get us some chips or something,” Black said. “But it just taught us a whole lot about working hard. It was more of the principles that we learned through it—the work ethic—from time just spent with our dad.”

By the time Black was 10, the demands of the labor went to another level—and it even helped him gain strength and athleticism in basketball, as he was touching the rim as a fourth grader.

“I lifted washing machines, refrigerators, dryers and other household appliances that might not weigh as much but are hard to carry, like microwaves and couches,” Black told the NBPA recently in New York City. “Numerous times, me and my brothers were picking up couches and taking them into the house, or removing the couches from the house, cutting the yards, picking out weeds in the yard. It was just very strenuous work. The work was top to bottom of the house and the yard—everything.”

Now, 14 years later, Black has began to map out how he wants to follow in the footsteps of his father, who’s going on 63 years old and still has a couple of houses in Memphis, while working on a new grocery store. “He’s still very fit and in shape,” Black said.

In July—the same month he re-signed with the Lakers for two years, $12.85 million after going undrafted in 2014—Black attended the NBPA’s second annual Real Estate Symposium. And this month, he participated in the NBPA’s second annual Business, Entrepreneurship and Franchising Symposium.

Black, 24, was the youngest player by far in both programs. He discussed why he’s already preparing for life after basketball.

“I took a [recruiting] visit to Georgetown and I met with John Thompson, and he had a philosophy,” he said. “He had a flat basketball on his desk, and he used to always tell his players, ‘This is representative of the basketball’s not going to bounce forever. It’s going to stop bouncing.’ What’s for certain is these programs are here, these opportunities are here. My thing is, I’m not really worried about making the money right now. I’d rather learn things now. Knowledge and wisdom, as the Bible says, is more valuable than diamonds and gold.”

Black is also in the process of completing his master’s degree in African-American studies at Kansas, where he transferred in 2013 after spending his first three college seasons at Memphis. This week, Black returned to campus and he plans to finish classes at the end of the month.

He’ll officially receive his degree with the fall graduating class. After receiving his bachelor’s degree in organizational leadership from Memphis, focusing on the non-profit sector, African-American studies intrigued him because his hometown is predominantly black and he wanted to learn about its history.

Black’s vision is to utilize both degrees back home.

“My passion is to go back to Memphis and do nonprofit and philanthropic work in the inner city,” he said. “I want to go back and heighten the education these kids are getting. They don’t have an even playing field as better-off kids because they aren’t learning the same things, or at the same rate.

“Also, I want to introduce them to new things that will change how they perceive the world, like take them on trips to LA, New York, etc. I want to show them the world is vast and full of opportunity that they don’t see growing up in Memphis.”

Black’s Unique Business Education

Black’s entry into extensive real estate started in July at the NBPA’s program, which included other current and former NBA players Steve Blake, Norris Cole, Rip Hamilton, Kevin Martin, Luc Mbah a Moute, and brothers Paul and Elijah Millsap.

With a concentration on commercial real estate, the players learned how to pinpoint trends and scams; compare key terms like market vs. competition, costs vs. revenues, tenants vs. landlords; and examine case studies with exact floor plans and Excel spreadsheets breaking down actual investment deals. They also heard from leaders in the industry, including ex-players Devean George and Danny Granger, who both have their own successful real estate companies.

Coming into the program, Black knew how lucrative real estate can be, noting “it’s a necessity for mankind; people are always looking for a place to stay.” He talked about walking around New York City and not only realizing how many buildings there were, but also how many opportunities there were to own.

“Somebody has to run them. Why not yourself? They’re going to be there. They’re not going to tear down a thousand buildings and reconstruct the world,” he said during the program at the Lotte New York Palace hotel in midtown Manhattan. “[The business] might go from a Starbucks to a Kinko’s or a Kinko’s to a living arrangement permitting the permits and zoning of it. But regardless, that building is going to be there. I think about that all across the country.”

After three days in the Real Estate Symposium, Black’s biggest takeaways were learning the different ways of entering the business and making money; for example, as a developer, general contractor, or active vs. passive investor. He also paid close attention to the difficulties of owning homes, dealing with tenants, and deciphering credit loans and their interest rates.

“They are things that I realize now that I didn’t realize when I was younger,” he said. “Now, I can learn from what my dad did and what he went through because I was there.”

While the program was focused on commercial real estate, he’s leaving all of the doors open for future ventures. In the meantime, he’s working on his first project: looking to secure his family’s old house and his stepmother’s next door, both in downtown Memphis. They’re located right behind a renovated mall and entertainment center, which is in the prime real estate area of the developing part of downtown.

“If I can get both of those houses, I can do anything. The sky’s the limit,” he said. “I can tear it down, build four houses, rebuild the houses and sell them.”

The low cost of the opportunity appeals to him.

“It’s just a way for me to slo-mo into it and not do million projects, where you’re risking a lot of money,” he said. “I know the things I’m going to overlook, things that I still have to learn a lot about it. So it’s something that’s very economical and cost effective. I might not make that much money because it’s not what it’s about right now. It’s about learning what I’m doing.”

With his eagerness to take control of his first real estate project, Black also signed up for the NBPA’s three-day Business, Entrepreneurship and Franchising Symposium.

Black huddles up with former NBA players Maurice Savage (left) and Milt Palacio during the Business, Entrepreneurship and Franchising Symposium at the NBPA’s new headquarters in New York City. (Photo by Gregory Calvaire)

“I feel like I have a future in real estate and entrepreneurship,” he said during the program at the NBPA’s new headquarters in midtown Manhattan. “You might own your own business that’s a real estate firm, so you need to learn how to start it up—cash flows, business models, things like that in order to even do real estate.”

During the first day of the program—which included current and former NBA players Maurice Ager, Trevor Booker, Brandon Hunter, Milt Palacio, John Salmons, Maurice Savage, Mustafa Shakur, Awvee Storey and Anthony Tolliver—Black learned the fundamentals of entrepreneurship, process of innovation and financial plan for a startup.

They also broke up into teams of three to build a business model canvas for a startup idea. The canvas covered key partners, key activities, key resources, value propositions, customer relationships, customer channels, customer segments, cost structure and revenue streams.

“The biggest takeaway for me is definitely learning more in-depth about the business model,” Black said. “And what that means and how that functions in creating your business and also running your business, and vetting out future investment opportunities and entrepreneurial ventures through using the business model.”

Day 2 focused on the franchising business, headlined by a two-hour discussion with ex-player Junior Bridgeman, who’s one of the country’s largest restaurant franchise operators. His Bridgeman Foods company runs 121 Chili’s and 161 Wendy’s locations nationwide, according to a story this year in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

This year, Bridgeman signed on to become Coca-Cola’s third and final bottler and distributor nationwide for Dasani water and soft, sports and fruit drinks. With the deal becoming official next year, he’s currently in the process of transferring ownership of his restaurants to his three children.

Bridgeman opened up about his humble business beginnings with the players, noting that he lost $30,000 in the first month and $300,000 in the first 10 months. He said the lesson learned was that he only bought five stores at the start, and his earnings fell way short of his expectations.

“Today I would tell you guys, ‘Instead of being a franchisee, why don’t you own the whole franchise? What don’t you become a franchisor?’” Bridgeman told the group. “You’re not going to make enough money on five stores where you’re going to really build something that’s going to be wealth-making building and something that you can pass along to your kids. But to get to that point though, you’ve got to understand the business. I can’t stress that enough.”

Black was inspired by Bridgeman’s fortitude through his early financial hurdles.

“He actually accomplished with less than that we have because we make more money now,” Black said. “He didn’t have as much and he took that big of a chance and a risk. And it just shows his perseverance. So in the future, if we want to get involved in entrepreneurship, if we want to get involved with franchising, and just business in general, we’re going to have to push through things. It’s easy to give up, but he gives that example to keep pushing and persevering.”

On the final day of the program, stemming from the business model canvas, Black, Palacio and Savage presented their startup idea to a panel of seasoned entrepreneurs, in a Shark Tank-esque investor presentation setting. The players’ concept was the Shelves mobile app, connecting actual store inventory, based on someone’s locale, with the ability to purchase before the product is sold out.

Black shared his comparisons of performing the exercise to playing in the NBA.

“It’s very similar in that we have a crowd audience that we have to perform in front of. I’ve played in front of 16,000 people who put a lot of pressure on me, especially from the organization that I play for,” he said. “So that once we go show the business model to someone, that’s like the game, that’s the finished product, and it’s well-functioning because we did all this groundwork to lay the foundation for it.”

Looking ahead, Black is thinking generations beyond his own legacy. The upcoming college graduate not only wants to build upon the success his father has had, but, like Bridgeman, he also envisions his children one day continuing the family tradition.

“My thing is, just take it to the next level,” he said. “My dad played basketball, went to college for a year. That was his career; he never went pro. I played basketball; I went pro. I’m in a better position than what he was. I’m very fortunate to have an opportunity to come to these programs and meet these people. My dad never had the opportunity to learn. And I hope my son takes it to the next level. Whatever you want to do, be great at it.”

ORIGINAL ARTICLE

Tarik Black: Thank You For The Opportunity

Tarik Black: Thank You For The Opportunity

LA Lakers rookie Tarik Black arrived in LA after going undrafted and being cut by the Houston Rockets.

Los Angeles Lakers rookies currently have dolls they have to push around and a pink backpack they have to wear to wear as part of their initiation into the NBA. Lakers coach Byron Scott ordered the rookies to take responsibility for the baby dolls, and fines would be levied for mismanagement of the dolls.

Humbling a young, highly paid athlete may sound like a challenge, but for Lakers rookie Tarik Black, being humble comes naturally.

“My mom always raised [me] to be humble,” Black says while also crediting his spiritual background. “I’m always meant to be humble and grateful. It’s just naturally in my nature.”

This 23-year-old undrafted rookie out of Memphis finishes every media session with a patented phrase: “Thank you for the opportunity.” Whether he has just completed a performance that features 14 points and nine rebounds or he simply walks off the practice court, Black parts with the same phrase: “Thank you for the opportunity.”

It sounds genuine, it feels refreshing, and so what exactly is going on here, kid? You’re a successful athlete on the doorstep of fully realizing your dreams.

“I’m just grateful. All of us, we weren’t always NBA players or top notch players,” Black says. “There was one point in time in everybody’s life when we didn’t have the opportunity to do interviews. You’re watching everyone else doing interviews and wishing one day that you would be that successful at something and be there.”

He sounds like a good kid.

“So, my thing is just my gratefulness for just having the opportunity,” Black humbly adds before providing a reminder. “You know, you guys don’t have to come interview me.”

He’s correct, and judging by his energy on the court and demeanor off it, Black should have plenty of opportunities coming his way. “Thanks, Tarik” should return a friendly “you’re welcome” or “no problem.” It does.

Just as my back turns, those same words sound out again: “Thank you for the opportunity.”

Lakers News: Tarik Black Learned More From Kobe Bryant Than Just Basketball

Lakers News: Tarik Black Learned More From Kobe Bryant Than Just Basketball

Los Angeles Lakers center Tarik Black is known for his work inspiring ethic on the NBA floor, but it may be what he represents off the court that is most impressive. The 25-year-old big man stands out in a crowd and it’s not just because of his 6’9″ frame. Black is a leader and approaches both basketball and life with a disciplined determination.

Initially, Black went undrafted in 2014, but quickly signed a deal with the Houston Rockets. He was waived on Christmas Eve that year and the Lakers jumped on the opportunity to claim the bouncy big man, hoping that the potential that he flashed in Houston could help their young squad. This gave him the opportunity to spend to spend some time with one of the best players of all-time in Kobe Bryant.

Black recently spoke to Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated and says he learned about much more than basketball from the Lakers legend:

“We sat on the plane one time and just talked about family and how they ask for money. We talked about how to set my family up for success. We talked about business. We talked about investments. He opened my eyes to investments and handling money. He said on the plane one time he was like, ‘Tell me about your bank accounts.’ You know he doesn’t beat around the bush. He was like, ‘You need to learn about this stuff.’ I read. He got me some books that I read all the time. He was like, ‘You need to start reading books, learning.’ ”

It’s this mentality that truly sets Black apart. Most players simply want to thank Bryant for everything he did for the game or to get his signature. Black was more interested in finding out about what made Bryant tick, what allowed him to find so much success off the court as well as on.

Black has big goals for when his NBA playing days come to an end. He plans on using his Master’s in African American studies to help underprivileged children in his hometown of Memphis. While he thrills Lakers fans with rim-rattling dunks on the court, what he does off of it will be even more important.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE

How Tarik Black balanced basketball and books to earn his MASTER’S DEGREE

How Tarik Black balanced basketball and books to earn his MASTER’S DEGREE

 @MARCJSPEARSESPN | 

Tarik Black is an imposing 6-foot-9, 250-pound young black man with so many tattoos from his neck down that he lost count. As an NBA player, the Memphis, Tennessee, native might fit the stereotype. But knowing he is usually judged at first sight, the eccentric Los Angeles Lakers big man loves to spark conversation with a nervous woman clutching her purse or a fan who sees him as just a jock.

“You walk into an elevator or room and they say, ‘It’s a basketball player,’ and that’s automatic. And I know I fit the description,” Black told The Undefeated. “I’m tall. I have the stature. I have tattoos. But, it’s another thing when you actually continue the conversation, because I’m personable, I love talking to people, I love socializing, I love communicating. I just get to know people.

“So when I open my mouth and talk to them it goes from, ‘Oh, athlete. We just want to take a picture and get an autograph,’ to a well-spoken young man, great young man, great mind, great heart and he just happens to play basketball …’ There’s a switch. I don’t get titled. I don’t get stuck under the stigma of athlete once the conversation starts and once you leave the elevator, leave the event, leave the conversation.”

Black started planning on being more than just a basketball player when he was a blue-chip prospect in high school.

He was a consensus Top 50 recruit in 2010 and ranked 54th in his class by ESPN.com. As a senior, the 2010 Tennessee All-State selection averaged 16.2 points and 12.6 rebounds. He also turned down offers from several top programs to play in his beloved hometown for the University of Memphis.

“It meant more to me to stay home in front of my family,” Black said. “And when I say family, I mean the people of Memphis and not just my parents and siblings. That decision was bigger than a basketball decision. That decision stemmed from my heart for my city.”

One of Black’s close advisers in high school was Willie Gregory, senior director of global community impact for Nike Inc. Gregory told Black that he had NBA potential but needed to think beyond that, and that it would benefit him to earn his bachelor’s degree as quickly as possible.

Black heeded that advice and he started the process by taking summer school classes upon arrival at the University of Memphis.

Tarik Black #10 of the Memphis Tigers leads his team in a huddle before a game against the UCF Knights on January 26, 2011 at FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee. Tarik Black (left) of the Memphis Tigers leads his team in a huddle before a game against the UCF Knights on Jan. 26, 2011, at the FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee. JOE MURPHY/GETTY IMAGES

“He said, ‘I want you to go in and challenge yourself to finish in three years so that if you end up leaving early to the NBA … ,” Black said Gregory told him. “I was like Top 50 and there were some talks about NBA, but I wasn’t like a superstar or anything …

“He said, ‘If you do it three years, now you’ve graduated and you don’t have to go back to school.’ And so we got my mom on board. My mom said, ‘Mr. Gregory has a great idea and you should definitely do it.’ ”

Black’s college basketball career opened strongly as he was a starter for most of his freshman year at the University of Memphis. He averaged 10.7 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks per game as a sophomore. His career with the Tigers took a step backward, however. As a junior, he only started a mere five games averaging 8.1 points and 4.8 rebounds in 20.8 minutes. Black didn’t see eye to eye with Memphis coach Josh Pastner and even walked out of one of his practices.

Black now takes responsibility for his struggles.

“My junior year it ended up going south, and I really fell off,” Black said. “I ended up not being a starter. I averaged like 10 less minutes than the year before. And there was just some stuff. I can’t just blame the coach or myself. I was young and immature and didn’t understand how to handle everything. And we didn’t get along as well my junior year.”

Black’s academic life was a different story. He was named to the Tiger Academic 30 during the 2013 spring semester for having the team’s highest grade-point average. Living up to Gregory’s challenge, he graduated from Memphis with a degree in organizational leadership after his junior year. With a degree in hand, Black actually became eligible to transfer to another university for his final year of eligibility as a graduate student.

“The situation at the University of Memphis had run its course. I was done with it,” Black said. “Breaking up with my hometown and my hometown team was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.”

During a news conference at his home in April 2013, Black announced that he would be transferring to another university for his final year of eligibility and graduate school. He wanted a “unique situation to gain a new perspective.” He also called it “a brief intermission” from his beloved hometown of Memphis where his “heart and soul will always be.”

He immediately got interest from such college powers as Kansas and Duke. His mom’s phone actually began going crazy with text messages and calls as her son announced the news.

Black eventually ended up accepting a major offer to transfer to Kansas. He joined two five-star recruits named Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid, now two of the NBA’s young rising stars.

Due to his late decision to transfer, Black only had one opportunity to pass the GRE General Test to qualify for business school. He mistakenly thought he had two chances and didn’t think he studied well enough the first time. His fear came true as he was three points shy of passing the GRE, leaving him ineligible for admittance to business school at Kansas for the 2013-14 season.

Instead, he chose African-American studies. Although he still kicks himself about his GRE error, he believes a master’s in African-American studies is more meaningful to his hope to aid underprivileged and struggling inner-city communities in Memphis in the future.

“My dream and passion actually is doing nonprofit work in a city with so much history when it comes to civil rights leaders or slavery,” said Black, whose mother used to be Director of Marketing at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis. “And the Underground Railroad, Memphis was the main stop in it. So, being from a city like that, understanding the background and wanting to go back and work with inner-city youth, which is my true passion, it actually ended up being a blessing.”
Kansas forward Tarik Black (25) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, Kan., Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014.Kansas forward Tarik Black (No. 25) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, Kansas, on Jan. 18, 2014.

Black was named the Big 12 Conference Preseason Newcomer of the Year and initially fell victim to all the hype. He struggled during the regular season, averaging 5.5 points and 3.9 rebounds in 13.5 minutes per game. After Embiid was sidelined, Black averaged 15 points per game during the NCAA tournament.

With Embiid out, Kansas’ season ended when it lost in the second round of the NCAA tournament to Stanford without him.

“It just led me to be unselfish. In being unselfishness, I flourished. And by tournament time, wow, you see me in the tournament averaging 15.”

Wiggins was the top pick in the NBA draft while Embiid was selected third overall. As for Black, 60 picks went by without his name being called. He was initially depressed as the second round unfolded without him.

Black’s agent, Michael Lelchitski, however, told his client that not being drafted in the second round was a great thing since he could choose a team that best fit him. After getting interest from several teams, Black agreed to sign as a free agent with the Houston Rockets shortly after the draft concluded.

After Black delivered a strong summer league performance, the Rockets signed him to a nonguaranteed contract in August 2014. He went on to make the Rockets’ opening night roster.

“I’m always a big advocate of betting on myself,” Black said. “I agreed to a deal draft night like every other player in the draft, which is crazy. So, the only thing I really missed out draft night was hearing my name called.”

Black’s first NBA game was on Oct. 28, 2014, when new Rockets center Dwight Howard returned to Los Angeles to play the Lakers. Black had two points in 20 minutes in the Rockets’ 108-90 blowout, which was highlighted by a yelling match between Howard and Lakers star Kobe Bryant and Lakers rookie forward Julius Randle breaking his leg.

“My first game I was scared out my mind, period. Staples Center? I’m at the Staples Center?” Black said. “First official NBA game against the Lakers. I came to L.A. as a rookie who didn’t know anything.”

On Christmas Eve that year, Black was told the Rockets were waiving him to make room on the roster for free-agent forward-center Josh Smith. Four days later, however, Black signed with the Lakers on a waiver claim.

Black averaged 9.3 points and 7.5 rebounds per game on 60.5 percent shooting with the Lakers after being reinserted into the starting lineup at center and finished his rookie season. He returned during the 2015-16 season, which would also be the 20th and final season for future Hall of Famer Bryant.

While many Lakers and NBA players asked Bryant for signed memorabilia and pictures, Black asked for private one-on-one time.

“I wasn’t just going to let him leave without just transferring what he knew,” Black said. “A lot of people didn’t take advantage of it. They’ll just let a legend like him go and be like, ‘It was awesome seeing him play.’ I’d text him and say, ‘Every trip I need to sit down with you at least once. Have dinner on the plane, anything, with you telling me something. It doesn’t have to be basketball-related, you just have to tell me something.’

Kobe Bryant #24 and Tarik Black #28 of the Los Angeles Lakers hug after the game against the Utah Jazz at STAPLES Center on April 13, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.

Kobe Bryant (No. 24) and Tarik Black of the Los Angeles Lakers hug after the game against the Utah Jazz at Staples Center on April 13, 2016, in Los Angeles. ANDREW D. BERNSTEIN/NBAE VIA GETTY IMAGES

“We sat on the plane one time and just talked about family and how they ask for money. We talked about how to set my family up for success. We talked about business. We talked about investments. He opened my eyes to investments and handling money. He said on the plane one time he was like, ‘Tell me about your bank accounts.’ You know he doesn’t beat around the bush. He was like, ‘You need to learn about this stuff.’ I read. He got me some books that I read all the time. He was like, ‘You need to start reading books, learning.’ ”

While Black quietly learned from one of the NBA’s greatest players, he also earned his master’s degree from Kansas.

Black took a heavy load of classes the summer before his rookie NBA season. He took more classes during the summer of 2015. He completed and turned in his thesis during the 2015-2016 season. Black’s academic adviser gave him the final word via a phone call. Kansas paid for it all and offered a great academic supporting cast.

“It took people helping me through it,” Black said. “People were there for me and my backbone, and carried me through it, locking me into getting it done. It feels wonderful to have that paperwork, especially in today’s world. A bachelor’s doesn’t mean much. It’s basically like a high school diploma. So, having a master’s, it means so much, especially to have the accolade as 24-year-old black man and to me personally.

“The thing that just gets me is that it’s so appealing and almost tiptoeing into appalling that an African-American getting a master’s [is big news], because it should be normal. I’m not the brightest of them. I’ve met plenty of people who have very brilliant minds. Brilliant minds. They just need opportunities.”

Los Angeles certainly has all the trappings for any rich young man in his early 20s. The city’s club scene may be second only to Las Vegas. Doors to the newest, latest and hottest of everything are always open to any player from the 16-time NBA champion team. Black, however, has put his energy into meeting some of the movers and shakers of the L.A. business world rather than moving and shaking on the dance floor.

“Everyone thinks that being on the scene is the place to be,” Black said. “But they don’t understand that the people that are on the scene work for the people that run the scene. The people who run the scene are also in L.A., but they’re not in the clubs, the popular spots or where the paparazzi are taking pictures. They run the scene behind the scene.

Black is making $6.1 million in the final year of his contract this season with the Lakers and is expected to continue his NBA career. He has put in the paperwork to start the Tarik Black Foundation with a mission “to provide inner-city youth with an opportunity and perspective to level the playing field” primarily back home in Memphis. He plans to buy his first house this year in Los Angeles. He has also invested in the OjO Electric Scooter, a company that makes e-scooters with a patented ergonomic design for comfort, style and agility.

Black knows there is a lot more to this book than just the cover. And at his young age, there are lots of chapters still to come, including hope to one day run for mayor of Memphis.

“I live life to be the role model that I always wanted,” Black said. “And if anybody can learn anything from my story, it is to take what you need, because I’ve experienced a lot. I’ve seen a lot and I won’t be bold enough to say I’ve seen everything. So I won’t ever sit and say that I don’t want anybody to ever mimic me, because a lot of people mimic people.

“You should do it your own way. But take what you need from my story that relates to you.”

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