DARIUS MILES & QUENTIN RICHARDSON: REAL FRIENDS
When Darius Miles joined the Clippers in 2000 and clicked up with “Q-Rich” aka Quentin Richardson to form arguably the most exciting young duo in NBA history, I was eight years old and three years into living a suburban-Texas lifestyle alongside few people who looked like me. Leaving a middle class black neighborhood and entering a wealthy one in which I was one of the only black kids in the majority of my classes was a culture shock that left me seeking and finding cultural connection through the media I consumed. Impressionable as fuck and obsessed with basketball, me and my best friend of 21 years, Hysom -- one of the only other black kids at my school -- not only snatched the Slam Magazine issue that featured Miles and Q-Rich/the legendary one with the cover that featured Miles, Elton Brand and Lamar Odom in the durags, headbands and backwards jerseys, we grabbed the NBA headbands, socks, mad durags and mimicked the “head tap” celebration that “D. Miles” and “Q. Rich” did every time we linked up for a bucket on our select basketball team, the Southlake Mad Dogs. If you want to talk about CULTURE in its truest sense, what Miles and Quentin Richardson brought to the NBA was CULTURE personified. The youthful excitement. The unabashed confidence. The on and off court style. The Hip Hop influence. That’s what basketball was and still is to me. The hardwood provided a safe space for me and my friend -- we actually met when he picked me for his hoops team during recess when I was first and he was in second grade -- in which we could be ourselves. I mean some of the parents in the stands must have been confused by our antics, but we never payed it any mind or could recognize it. We just wanted to be like the guys we saw on TV.
Reading Darius Miles’ story in the Players’ Tribune made me think about my best friend. See, Darius Miles is my favorite NBA player of all time other than Allen Iverson, so seeing the East St. Louis native rise from the abyss and tragedy he’s been dealing with in his personal life not only resonated with me, but moved me to tears. I’m not too masculine to admit this, but I’ma crier and a real one. When I say this story moved me to tears, I’m not talmbout the lil baby streaks that come out when you get pinched at church, I’m talmbout the ones that came down your face when G-Baby died after the shootout in Hardball. What was especially moving was seeing Miles’ friend Quentin Richardson as the guest editor for his Players Tribune story. If I’m being completely honest, I don’t necessarily value friendship.Now here me out. It’s not that I don’t enjoy relations or building bonds with new people. I’m all for that. I just don’t look at people in my circle as friends and I’m very cautious about who I let into my space and which energies surround me.
Those who I view as “friends” are family. Though we aren’t related through blood, I’d do anything in my power to make sure my people and their families eat as greedily as humanly possible. I’m nowhere near accomplishing that at the moment, but that’s what my creator put me on this earth for. I live 4orMyPeople, so if you didn’t understand what this site was trying to convey before, here’s what it truly means. Since the beginning of time, Hysom’s had my back whether I was right or wrong, and he isn’t afraid to tell me when I’m wrong. I’ve spent countless nights at his crib and many of those were nights I would have had nowhere else to sleep. We’ve been through countless trials and tribulations from fights, mostly ones we had no business involving ourselves in after a Everclear-fueled night of clubbing as teens, to gambling whatever we had on basketball games from sunup to sundown at the Keller Pointe so we could have McDonald’s money and talk shit for the rest of the day (nobodies parents wants to fund their lunch and pay the gym entry fee each day, all summer) to ransacking Burlington Coat Factory so boys could come to school every day in new outfits (lol I mean we were player with it, would walk in with the cartoon backpacks and go to town). Listen, we made a ton of bad decisions, many of them unnecessary, but for better or worse, we always had each other’s backs and did it together.
Quentin Richardson as the guest editor for Miles’ Players Tribune story summed it up for me. Throughout many of the dark places I’ve been, my brother never turned his back on me. Whenever I needed someone to listen to my bullshit whether self-inflicted or not, he’s been there to help me pick up the pieces and get my mind right. Because of this I owe him any success I ever have. We dream of driving matching cars (something they did), raising our kids on the same block (the two now live on the same street in Florida) and remaining each other’s backbones for the rest of our lives despite all the dumb shit we engage in. Like Miles may never have a friend greater than Quentin, I’ll never have a better friend than Hysom.