Interview with Former NBA Player Derek Strong
You may not recognize the name, but take notice because you’ll want to know this mighty-mighty-fine man. Derek Strong hooped it up in the NBA for ten seasons…laying it out from 1991 to 2001 with the Washington Bullets, Milwaukee Bucks, Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers, Orlando Magic and Los Angeles Clippers.
And he did something remarkable after retirement. He became the first NBA player to successfully transition into NASCAR as a driver. He also founded Derek Strong Racing, which is the first team in NASCAR history to have African-American female owners! Dawn Whitaker and Erica Hill (each minority owners) are the first in the sport…Erica also co-founded Peace International, a non-profit organization whose primary mission is to build schools in remote areas throughout the world.
This girls’ interest was piqued when Look to the Stars spoke to Derek from the red carpet at the recent Shane’s Inspiration event. The mission of Shane’s Inspiration is to create playgrounds for disabled/handicapped kids…“I played in the NBA for about 11 years and every year we did something with children’s hospital, we did things to help inner city children and I’ve been around children practically all my life, and I think it’s very important that we do get out there because they are our future,” said Strong from the red carpet.
But that wasn’t enough of a quote for me, so Derek Strong indulged me with a little Q&A….
Delinda: Was there one particular event that made you want to become involved with charity?
Derek: “Yes, when I went to the children’s hospital. It really touched me, seeing these kids hooked up to IV’s all day, confined to their unit, You didn’t know if they would live to see the next day. They are just starting out in life and they have been in the hospital everyday fighting cancer or another illness. And I want to help- help the kids, help the families, help find a cure because they should be outside playing with other kids. They should be on the playground not in the hospital.”
Delinda: I know from our conversation that you were exposed to a lot of charity events and community related activities as part of the NBA. In your opinion, are participating players really interested in helping out, or are they just playing along?
Derek: “You know, almost every employer has an outreach program- it goes beyond the individual. And it really depends on the person’s character, for me it was inspiring. You may have a player going to an event where they kind of just go through the motions and do nothing else, but others can be inspired. It teaches them to grow, plants the seed so to speak.”
Delinda: In terms of Strong Racing, have you had the opportunity to work with any kids?
Derek: “That’s what I’m trying to do now. I want somehow for our racing team to donate a percentage of our wins to the hospitals and organizations that help the kids. As I’ve said, children are our future. As an adult we can guide them in the right direction and help them. As the future generation, they’re our future survival, and the more we give them and guide them in the right direction, they’ll turn out ok.”
Delinda: You founded Strong Racing in 2001, how has it been going?
Derek: “Well we started racing in 2001 and we progress every week. We have potential to do very well. When we started, we declined a bit, but now we’re finding the chemistry and I think we’re going to do well.”
Delinda: What talent would you most like to have?
Derek: “The talent to heal.”
Delinda: What trait do you most admired in others?
Derek: “Resilience. When someone is planning on doing something, and no matter how hard it is, they stay course until they get what they want. I admire that.”
Delinda: What is your most treasured possession?
Derek: “My family.”
Delinda: Do you have any superstitions?
Derek: “No. A black cat can cross my path and I don’t care!”
Delinda: What’s the most annoying question you get asked?
Derek: “I don’t think any of them are annoying, I enjoy when people ask me something.”
Delinda: How do you recommend other people get involved in charity work?
Derek: “First thing is to find what touches you, what moves you. And then research. Find an organization that benefits your cause. Get involved. Follow you heart.”
Delinda: Do you think Hollywood is sort of ‘obligated’ to get involved?
Derek: “I don’t think anyone is ‘obligated’ but I do think there should be some involvement.”
Delinda: Aside from family, who has been a personal inspiration?
Derek: “A teammate of mine from college, he was like my brother and taught me about life and kept me on the straight path.”
And what a better path than one that led him straight into the hearts of children?
Thank you Derek. Thank you for the interview, but more importantly thank you for the compassion to help those who need it most. I’ll be watching you…
For more info on Derek Strong and the Strong Racing team, please visit the Strong Racing Team website.
As always, thanks for reading. Delinda@athlebrities.com