Zo Hot in Miami

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  • Alonzo Mourning may be retired from the NBA, but he’s still a part of the Miami Heat’s front office, so he shared in the team’s most recent championship. As a mentor and informal advisor to some of the Heat’s young stars, including Dwyane Wade who he shared a championship with in 2006, Mourning enjoyed this season as much as he did when he played. But that makes sense, as the married husband and father is all about mentoring young people.

    Through Alonzo Mourning Charities, he and wife Tracy have opened the Overtown Youth Center, which helps youth in the impoverished area with a wide array of services, and created Honey Shine, Tracy’s mentoring organization for young women. With a fundraiser in the works for OYC in July, we caught up with the big man to ask about how it feel to celebrate another championship and how giving back helps young people.

    BlackAmericaWeb: How does it feel to celebrate another Miami Heat championship?
    When you think about the critics and the adversity that some of these young people have gone through,  coming up short last year and understanding how difficult it is to win a championship makes it even sweeter. I’m so proud of LeBron, DWade and Chris and how they overcame a lot of obstacles and all the other guys on the team rallied around those three guys and did what they had to do to contribute to the whole process as well. When you think of franchises that have won multiple championships, we go down as one of the only ten that have done that. So it’s a great accomplishment for our franchise and our fans.

    It sounds as though it was just as sweet for you to watch the team win as it was for you to be a part of the win.
    Well, being a mentor and a big brother to those guys, you always want what’s best for your little brothers. After experiencing it, I wanted to see them experience it. The way things ended last year, it was a pretty humbling and embarrassing moment last year. It inspired these guys to work that much harder to not revisit that feeling again. When I see guys like LeBron, Chris and DWade dissected critically by the public for making the decision that they made to see them World Champions makes it all worthwhile.

    Do these guys take advice from you?
    Well, my position pretty much consists of trying to help the guys become better professionals on and off the court. Because I have a little street cred as a former player, the guys respect what I have to say and I give them words of encouragement and my perspective on things.

    So you’re a mentor for the team and a mentor for youth in the Miami area through your charities. Why is giving back of such importance to you?
    When you think about mentoring you think about young people and positive experiences. With TV and social media and everything out there, there are a lot of negativity out there that could persuade individuals to make the wrong decisions. I think being a mentor and providing positive reinforcement and support and things of that nature is all a part of youth development that is extremely important in our world today. My wife and I have been fortunate enough to create an atmosphere here in Miami through the Overtown Youth Center and Honey Shine which have provided a lot of support to young people and we’ve seen the difference that it makes.

    Not everyone makes the effort, though. Why was this so personally important to you?
    As a person and as a professional athlete, I think of all the people that have contributed to that. I didn’t get here by myself. None of us got her by ourselves. Bill Cosby put my wife through school and mentored her as well. She interned on “The Cosby Show.” When we think about all the people who had a positive influence on our life, we would be doing them a disservice if we did not do the same for others.

    One last question – with the Olympics coming up, do you see any serious threat in the world to Team USA?
    No, I don’t. I feel like we’re very superior. Even though the world has caught up because we have more international players in the NBA, I really don’t see any team in the world as a serious threat because I feel that we have the superior athletes. When the times comes, we will dominate in our Olympic play.

    Alonzo Mourning and his wife Tracy host a fundraiser “It’s All Overtown: One Night…One World,” to benefit the Overtown Youth Center. It takes place at Miami’s historic “The Rusty Pelican” restaurant. Proceeds will benefit the Overtown Youth Center, which serves youth from grades 2-12. To purchase tickets, starting at $125, and for more information, visit www.overtownyouth.org or call (305) 349-1204. Summer Groove, Mourning’s annual charity event and celebrity basketball game has been postponed this year until the winter.
     

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