Former NBA star Kendrick Perkins was just two years old when his father, Kenneth Perkins, abandoned him and his mother and moved to New Zealand to play basketball. Three years later he died in December 1989 after his Ercell Minix, his mother, was shot in the neck by a close friend who worked at a hair salon. The pair had reportedly been arguing for some time when things took a drastic turn.
In his new memoir, The Education of Kendrick Perkins (with Seth Rogoff, St. Martin’s Press), Perkins writes, “It’s not something to get over. It’s a loss I carry to this day.” “Before she was killed, it was just the two of us. She wouldn’t go anywhere without me.”
With his father absent and his mother dead, Perkins was placed in the home of his maternal grandparents, Mary Lewis and Raymond Lewis.
Raymond worked as a janitor and Mary cleaned the house and earned $40 a week. Money was tight. Perkins was determined to make it in basketball so he could support his grandparents.
Indeed, that’s the very reason he didn’t go to college. “My priority was making sure my grandparents were straight,” he wrote.
With his father standing at 6 feet 6 inches and his mother standing at 6 feet 1 inch, it was almost inevitable that Perkins would follow in his father’s footsteps. By eighth grade he was already 6ft 7.
But while his height made Perkins a standout performer on Ozen High School’s basketball team, it also brought problems.
His grandparents were cash-strapped, so his rapid growth meant his shoes were always too small. “My pants, even when newly purchased, were quickly too short and rose above my ankles in a dreaded ‘storm surge.’ At the time, it was an embarrassing sign of poverty and a complete lack of style.
In 2003, at age 18, Perkins left Beaumont for Boston in a 1993 Lincoln Town Car. It was given to him by his old trainer, Bute, his coach. After a summer of averaging over 700 practice shots a day, Perkins finished his 27th.th Picked in the first round of that year’s NBA Draft — LeBron James was the number one pick — the Memphis Grizzlies recruited him while they traded him to the Boston Celtics.
Perkins now has a base salary of $900,000, rising to $1.2 million in his third year. By the time the Celtics had him in his fourth year, he was making $1.7 million a year (“For a kid not yet 22 from Beaumont, Texas, there was a lot of lettuce in 2006. ’” he writes.) The money allowed him to fulfill a childhood promise. “Immediate care,” he says, of being able to provide for his grandparents after signing his first contract.
However, by the 2006/07 season, Perkins had “a good deal of NBA money”. This is his four-year deal worth $16 million.
And he enjoyed it.
He had five-figure bets with teammate Paul Pierce, including a bet on how many pushups he could do in the snow. The team’s plane then had a “Millionaire’s Table” reserved for him, Pierce, and Celtics legend Kevin Garnett.
And then there were some big nights. “We had one epic night in Memphis. We didn’t leave until a group of us went to a club and dropped about $75,000 in total. You have to imagine the rest of that story,” he says.
When Perkins and the Celtics defeated Kobe Bryant’s Los Angeles Lakers in 2008 to win his first NBA title in 22 years, he headed straight to the car showroom with teammate Rajon Rondo. “When the championship bonuses came in, I decided it was time to blow some cash,” he says. “Rondo and I went to a Boston-area car dealership and spent all our bonuses on a new Bentley. rice field.
But it’s not just about sports stardom. Throughout the book, ESPN analysts paint his life and career against a backdrop of poverty and inequality, discrimination and blatant racism. From the rights movement, he highlights the constant struggles of black men in America, from slavery to the present day. “To many readers, the 1930s and his 1940s Beaumont, Texas may seem like ancient history, but to me it may be yesterday,” he wrote. “For 18 years I’ve seen this history engraved on my grandparents’ faces. I’ve seen the impact of it all around me. I still do.”
For Perkins, memories of his mother continue to inspire him — and it still hurts.
While driving with my wife, Vanity, after one game in 2007, I thought how special it would have been to share an “absolutely blessed life” with my late mother. “I thought the yearning I had was so intense that it might tear me apart.
“Suddenly, I was crying more than I had ever been before. As Vanity sat beside me, hugging me and holding me tight, I realized that I had lived with the tragedy of her death for decades. It overflowed from me.
“Even if my mother is not there, her presence in my soul is the North Star.”