Sunday, December 29, 2013

Conversation with Lil Wayne's bodyguard

Me with Lil Wayne's bodyguard, Big John.
The following dialog is an interview I did with rapper Lil Wayne's bodyguard, Big John. We talked during the summer of 2008, a couple weeks after the release of Weezy's "A Milli" video. It was cool because Big John was actually featured in the music video.

He got a lot of face time in that video. I used to hit John up once every few months to see what’s good. He’s cool, funny, knowledgeable and very down to earth.

This was another one of my favorite conversations simply because Big John was really putting me on to some new knowledge. Take a look at some of the things Big John and I discussed a few years ago.

Anthony: Big John.What’s good, man?
Big John: Nothing much, bruh. How are you doing?
Anthony: (Smiles.) I can’t complain. I’m feeling pretty good right now. Let’s talk about you real quick. You got major face time in Lil’ Wayne’s latest video. How was that for you?
Big John: It was cool.Know what I’m sayin.’That was really Wayne’s idea. Most of the time I’m kind of laid back. I’m not trying to be in too many videos. That was really Wayne’s idea. But it was cool. It was like I was working.

Anthony: Is that kind of what goes down behind the scenes during a Weezy video?
Big John: Yeah, somewhat.It was still directed. That particular video was done in ONE TAKE. That was the kind of video Wayne wanted to do. He actually shot three videos that same day. He was actually leaving
one video before doing that one.You can see that at the beginning of the video.
Anthony: What’s it like to work for Lil’Wayne?
John followed Wayne throughout the video.
Big John: It’s a fun experience.He’s a really smart dude.He’s really about his business.He’s probably one of the hardest working dudes I’ve ever been around.
Anthony: How did you two come in contact with each other?
Big John: Um, I actually used to work for Juelz Santana and Dipset. I got hooked up with Wayne through Juelz. They used to hang with each other quite a bit. But I really got the job during a Chris Brown tour in L.A. I had a fight with four Samoans.
Anthony:  Say what?
Big John: (Laughs.) Yeah. Everybody left me out to hang. I guess they thought I was gonna take an L. I came out of that one.
Anthony: (Smiles.) That’s wild. I know that you used to play football, but what kind of training did you have go through to do what you do now?
Big John: I’ve been doing this for 14 years. I was doing this while I was playing football, during the summer time.
Anthony: Were you a bouncer?
Big John: No, it wasn’t really bouncing. I was working with other guys. My first job was with Mad Lion (Dancehall rapper). They would call me and my crew when they came to town.We would hold it down as
long as they were in town. It’s been since ’95.
Anthony: How much do you miss playing football?
Big John: It was a good experience, but I don’t really miss playing. I’m at a different time in my life. That was what I did when I was in school. Now, I’m into my career. I more so miss the guys I played with. I miss the people.

Anthony: How much did you come in contact with coach (Bighouse) Gaines?
Big John: I used to come in contact with coach Gaines quite a few times. I was trying to play basketball too. I was all right on the court. I wasn’t sorry. (Both laugh.) But, I talked to him (Coach Gaines) a lot. He was
always in the coaches office, and we would sit down and talk.He helped me with different things.
A n t h o n y : What’s the craziest thing you’ve experienced on the road in the last year?
Big John: One girl wouldn’t move her car. She parked her car right in front of the bus, like bumper to bumper. That’s probably the craziest experience I’ve ever seen. It’s not really a point of me seeing a lot. It’s really about me keeping Wayne safe at all times, because different people feel differently about Wayne in every city. That’s all.

Anthony: How do you have a personal life with your schedule and duties?
Bryan "Baby" Williams.
Big John: It’s hard. I’m married and I have kids. So, it’s difficult. But I do everything for my family and my kids.
Anthony: That’s what’s up.Hey, what’s Baby (Williams) like?
Big John: Baby is cool. He is real laid back. He’s the boss. He knows how to take care of things, and he keeps the same guys around him at all times. He’s like the people you see in movies. He’s the boss. It’s funny because people don’t think of Baby like that. He’s probably one of the most cool, laid back guys that you would ever talk to.He makes being there a lot better.
Anthony: I want you to tell everyone how much love Chris Paul (CP3 was a star for New Orleans at the time of interview) gets in New Orleans.
Big John: Man, Chris Paul has his face on the side of a building. He’s doing a crossover or something. Yeah. Right downtown.

Anthony: So, New Orleans is Lil’Wayne and Chris Paul?
Big John: Yeah. I would say that now it’s more Chris Paul because he’s physically there. Right now the city
belongs to Chris.
Here, CP3 poses with friends Game and Kevin Hart. 
Anthony: (Smiles.)Who do you keep up with the most from Winston-Salem?
Big John: I talk to Josh (Howard) and Chris most of the time. I also go back to see coach Blount every now and then. But I really don’t have too much time to keep in touch. I stay busy.

 Anthony: Are you treated like a celebrity when you go places nowadays?
Big John: Oh yeah, especially in the airports. A lot of people recognize me from the video. That’s the main thing. I honestly sign autographs and everything.
Anthony: (Laughs.) Speaking of that video. Where did the idea for the Mohawk come about?

Big John: I was getting a haircut. And, I was asking Wayne’s barber to give me a cut that makes me look big and crazy. He said that I was already big. He asked me if I would do the mohawk. (Both laugh.) I told him that I would try it. I’m going to keep it. Wayne messes with me about it all the time.
Anthony: When are you going to see Wayne again?
Big John: Actually, I’m going to L.A. on Thursday to do a video with T-Pain. I’ll see him on Thursday.

Anthony: Cool. What do you think you’d be doing if you weren’t doing what you’re doing today?
Big John: (Laughs.) I’d be doing bail bonds. That was one of the things that I was doing.
Anthony: OK. Do you have a favorite NFL team?
Big John: Oh, I roll with the Redskins all the way.
Anthony: What? You don’t like the Cowboys?
Big John: Cowboys? Who are they? (Both laugh.) I have been a Redskins fan since I was a kid.

Anthony: I hear that. Let’s finish with free association. Uh, Big John.
Big John: Works hard.
Anthony: Winston-Salem State.
Big John: Best school.
Anthony: Coach Kermit Blount.
Big John: Great man and coach.
Anthony: Tory Woodbury.(Former WSSU QB)
Big John: Good player.
Anthony: Young Money Records. (Lil’ Wayne’s record label.)
Big John: The best.

Anthony: No doubt. That’s what’s up.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Conversation with CP3's mother

Here, Robin and Charles pose with a pair of CP3s during a launch in 2008.

Some people close to me know that I'm putting together a book with some of my favorite interviews from the last 10 years. I've done Q&As with famous athletes and sports personalities, but some of my favorite conversations took place while talking to non-athletes.

In May of 2008, I talked to one of my favorite NBA mothers, Robin Paul. Some of you know she's Chris Paul's mother. It was Mother's Day weekend, and CP3's birthday when we did this interview.

She’s also a big sports fan. I knew we could talk a little sports and have some fun. CP was a star for New Orleans Hornets at the time of this interview. Robin is a great person, with a huge heart. She's also very down to earth. It’s easy to feel like you've known her for years after a few conversations. I still hug her as if I'm a part of the family when I see her out.

Take a look at some of our conversation from a few years back.

Anthony: (Smiles.) What’s going on, Robin?
Robin: Not a whole lot. Just getting back from New Orleans.
Anthony: I hear that. And, CP and the guys are up 2-0 on the Spurs. You have to give me your thoughts on that.

Robin: Oh, that’s very impressive. We’re glad to be where we are right now.
Anthony: Let me ask you this.
Here, Charles and Robin Paul pose with CP during his Wake Forest days.
Robin: OK.
Anthony: How does it make you feel to see Chris highlights and commercials, or watch the reaction
of some of the fans when he does things during games?
Robin: I mean, we’re blessed. It makes us feel very proud. But you have to realize that we’re right there cheering with them. We’re cheering for the same player and team.
Anthony: When did you realize that Chris was pretty good?
Robin: You have to realize that I just see Chris as being Chris. We all know that he has a great talent. I just
look at it as being blessed overall. I can’t say that I realized Chris was good after he did this or that. My husband knew before I did. He has a great talent, though.

Anthony: Today (Tuesday) is CP’s birthday,
Robin: Today is his 23rd birthday. It sure is. As a matter of fact, he just called the cell phone. (Giggles.) Charles is talking to him now. We did a big dinner for him while we were out there. He’s real focused right
now. He’s on a mission.
Anthony: Sunday is Mother’s Day. And, I am sure you’re going to be in San Antonio (For the playoff game).
Robin: Yes, we’ll be in San Antonio. I’m used to it. I've been in a gym through a lot of Mother’s Days, dating back to AAU. We would be in a gym just about every Mother’s Day. We used to go out and buy roses to give to the other mothers. I see this as being no different. We’ll be in another gym this coming

Anthony: How are you able to deal with the crazy travel schedule?
Robin: That part can get hard sometimes. Like this morning, we had to get up at 3:30 to catch an early flight.
We’re back and forth (Between Winston-Salem, NC and New Orleans) so much.(Giggles.) But you have to get your rest and be ready to roll.
Anthony: Where’s the best place you visited within the last three years?
Robin: We don’t go to a lot of the away games. Mainly the home games.
Anthony: It doesn't have to be for basketball. Just name some of the places you've enjoyed.
Robin: Hmm. Let me think. I enjoyed Japan, when we went over with the Olympic team. That was another culture. I enjoyed that. Dallas, Salt Lake City and L.A (Now Chris is a standout for the L.A. Clippers).

Anthony: Have you met anyone that you've been in awe over? I know that you recently met Paula Dean.
Robin: Yeah, that was great. There were a lot of stars at the game last night. We met Danny Glover, Forest
Whitaker, Jackie Long (from “ATL.”) and Diana Ross’daughter (Tracee Ellis Ross).The one that’s on
“Girlfriends.” We met her the night before last.

Anthony: Oh, OK.
Robin: All of them are just real down to earth people. They do what they have to during the day, and chill and come to the game at night.
Anthony: Cool. What is your favorite thing to eat nowadays?
Robin: It’s probably gumbo. (Both laugh.)
Anthony: I know you make a killer dish of beans and weenies.
Robin: Beans, weenie and tuna. As a matter I cooked that on Friday when we were
in New Orleans. I sure did. Friday night. Tony Parker (Spurs point guard) came by the house and ate dinner with us. He enjoyed it.

Anthony: Do you have a good relationship with most of the players that Chris is friends with?
Robin: Yes, we do. We sure do.
Anthony: That’s one of the biggest differences between the new and old NBA. Guys really used to not like each other back in the day. Now, some of the best players are friends.
Robin: Oh yeah, they’re really close. This is their job. They have to get along with people they work with. It’s no different than us with our coworkers.
Anthony: What else is new Mrs. Paul?
Robin: Oh, nothing else is really new. We just need to go ahead and win this championship.

Anthony: No doubt. Uh, they announced that Kobe won the MVP a little earlier today. Is that disappointing to you?
Robin: (Laughs.) We were glad that Chris’ name was even mentioned. Here he is in his third season, for him
to be mentioned as MVP was a blessing. He’ll always be the MVP in our eyes anyway. He’ll get it one day.
Anthony: No doubt. Mrs.Paul, I need a pair of CP3’s.
Robin: (Laughs.) OK. I need a pair too. They’re all at the mall.
Anthony: (Laughs.) Oh, I can’t believe you’re going to do me like that. (Both laugh.) OK, let me get a CP3 T-shirt or something.
Robin: We can do a Tshirt.

Anthony: (Smiles.) That sounds good to me. Um, let’s finish with free association so you can enjoy the rest of your day.
Here, Robin, C.J. and CP3 pack goods for charity.
Robin: Oh, man.
Anthony: It’s gonna be easy.
Robin: OK.
Anthony: Charles Paul.
Robin: My husband and son. (Oldest son also named Charles, aka C.J.)
Anthony: (Smiles.) Winston-Salem.
Robin: Hometown.

Anthony: Robin Paul.
Robin: Charles’ wife. C.J.and Chris’ mom. Rhonda’s (Rhonda Richardson) sister.
Anthony: New Orleans.

Robin: Hornets.
Anthony: Charlotte Bobcats.
Robin: Raymond Felton. (Former Bobacats and UNC pg) and Michael Jordan.
Anthony: Favorite basketball player of all-time.
Robin: Michael Jordan.
Anthony: (Smiles.) All right. We’re done.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Dating sites complicate DATING

The days of DATING SITES seemingly being for people that can't get enough attention when he or she is out in public are over.

Nowadays, most men and women are choosing to give love a try on either one or several dating sites. There's always going to be creeps, and people that you don't want to cross paths online. Same is true for the grocery store. And, that's kind of the approach that most people take when deciding to get on a site.

Don't you miss college, when you met a person that could potentially be your other half every semester? Just saying.

Anyway. One of my good friends, who will remain nameless, recently found a person he describes as his soul mate on a free dating site, which is completely out of the norm. A lot of other people tend to put more trust in paid dating sites, thinking that a person that is putting money into his or her search for love is more serious or likely to not just be trying to get a one night stand.

He swears that a site is a site. People are people. "Yo, just like in the club," my boy said. "You can only click with one. I was on a free site, and there were plenty of people I wouldn't talk to. But I was able to find my match, and I'm almost positive I wouldn't have met her at the spots I chill. Ya know."

I would have to agree... simply because I am very familiar with where he hangs most of the time.


So, this is where things to get complicated. I apologize for only being able to use one example here. But I think this holds true for anyone that finds a person they want to build with online.

After he met his lady my boy had to figure out what to do with the other women that he was trying to meet, get to know, figure out, take out, see how they clicked, and so forth.

"Ay, a couple of them seemed aight," he said."What should I do? Do I delete my page now?"


"What about the other women, bruh," he then asked. "I'm supposed to tell them that I'm sorry for seeming like I'm interested for the last few days only to say I don't want to communicate anymore. How lame is that?"

I sat back, and honestly felt him on that one. In most dating situations (unless you're a playa) you generally date and get to know one person at a time. Well, on a site, a person could be getting "hollared" at by four or five people are week.

"Man, I had at least five inbox messages a day," he said. "Some of them were straight, bruh."

Couldn't help but laugh after that one. Back to this blog. I think that's complicated. The easiest thing to do would be treating it normally. Like, me, I'm dating someone and I have stopped calling, responding and having dates with random female friends. Same should happen after finding a potential match online.

Things don't have to be complicated. Just be a man, or a woman and cut the other prospects loose. You're actually doing them a favor. Some of them are probably hoping things go further, whereas, you've realized you want to move forward with your MATCH.

Aight. I'm going to close out on this one. I need to go train someone. But I thought this was interesting after talking about it last night.