On October 28, NBA player Arron Afflalo tweeted, “yea @kendricklamar good kid m.A.A.d city still spinning over here ….” It seemed like nothing all that out of the ordinary—professional hoopers are known to love hip-hop, and praise for K. Dot’s Interscope debut was in full swing all across the Internet. Unlike nearly all of the hundreds of thousands of others who had been tweeting positive words about the album, though, Afflalo was in a unique position: he was a subject on the project.
To open “Black Boy Fly,” a bonus cut on the release, Kendrick admits, “I used to be jealous of Arron Afflalo/I used to be jealous of Arron Afflalo/He was the one to follow/He was the only leader for seeing brighter tomorrows.” As the verse continues, the 2011 XXL Freshman paints a picture of his younger self idolizing Afflalo—two years his senior and a fellow Centennial High School student in the early aughts—as the current Orlando Magic guard led the school to a state championship, focused on academics, displayed “determination, ambition, plus dedication and wisdom” and made it out of Compton.
XXLMag.com caught up with Afflalo for his reaction to the musical dedication.
He’s pretty amazing lyrically, obviously. But the way in which he delivers it, with the wisdom that he has and his ability to rhyme the truth. It’s pretty fascinating.
I think it’s a form of respect. I think it’s more credit to him than me because I can only imagine the feeling that I had—that hunger to be successful and you have it in front of your face. I remember my high school days, it was a good time for me. I was almost like the golden child in the city of Compton, or at least at Centennial at that time, considering where I was as a basketball player, and all the positivity I had around me, in terms of school and people appreciating me and showing me love for what I did on the court and in the community at that time in my life. So for him to kind of be in the background and who he is today, it showed you the perseverance that he had for so many years.
I never really thought about it that way, in terms of doing [school] with an ulterior motive. I’ma do what I have to do, and if that meant focusing on school, if that meant staying in the gym hour after hour, staying hunry and competing at whatever I had to do, I would do it. I didn’t really think of it in terms of it being an example for somebody else, I was just focused on me doing what I needed to do to succeed.
I wouldn’t say we hung out everyday or nothin’ like that, but just in terms of school and seeing him go through the process of trying to get to where he’s going—not even where he’s at today, but where he’s continuing to rise to. I’ve spoken to him on a few occasions, like when I would run into him throughout the summer.
I’m sure I’ma run into him. I’ll reach out for sure when I’m in L.A., get him to come to a game. —As told to Adam Fleischer (@AdamXXL)
Check out Afflalo’s recent day in the life video below: