Courtesy of David Aldridge
Me: What do you think the kids got from the meetings, and what did you get from them?
DeMarcus Cousins: The biggest message is it’s mistakes on both sides. You can’t sit here just and blame it on them; you can’t just sit here and blame it on them. It’s victims on both sides. At the end of the day, everybody talks about what needs to be done, what this side needs to do and what this side needs to do. We can come together if we really want. If we really are trying to fix the issues, both sides will humble themselves and come to the table. And that’s basically what it was about.
Me: What did you hear that helped?
DMC: I heard some great things. There was one kid that was right before the meeting ended. His message was, how am I — this was a young high school kid — how am I just supposed to accept you coming into my life after everything that you’ve done? The crowd applauded. It was a great question. And you can understand where the kid’s coming from. So the officers were kind of stunned a little bit, and they responded. And I said, I told him, do you want this issue to be solved? He was like, yeah. I said, well, you’re going to have to open up as well. And that’s how we ended. I think both sides understood. I think we’re in a better place. Still a lot of work to do.
Me: Is there anything else you want to do with this going forward?
DMC: Absolutely. We’re working with Sacramento Police, Rosewood Police, officers in the local area. We’re going to try to do some events to get both sides together — picnics, games — just to get that vibe together, let it be known that it’s okay. Same thing back home. It’s a lot of things. Nothing’s set in stone yet, just a lot of ideas because of the schedules. But there’s some things in progress.
Me: When you were growing up, did you have anybody who played that role for you — a cop or anyone in law enforcement?
DMC: I actually, my AAU coach was a policeman. I reached out to him, talked to him after the current events, just to try to gain understanding. He kept it honest with me. I don’t want to say his name or anything, but he kept it honest with me, and was like, it’s f’ed up. There’s some bad cops. Me knowing him my whole life, I’ve seen how he’s interacted with people. We had troublemakers on our team, and I’ve seen how he’s handled it. It was rough for me. I’ve grown up with this guy most of my life, and I’ve also had issues with the police myself, personally, coming up through high school. And even as a professional. It was a struggle for me, but like I said, if we want this thing to work, it’s going to take both sides coming together.
Me: Is this something guys talk about in the locker room, and around the league?
DMC: I can’t speak for everybody in the league. I know that this is something that’s important to us in this locker room, Sacramento’s locker room. I can’t speak for the rest of the league.
Me: Where would you like to have more impact in Sacramento — any particular area, any particular neighborhood?
DMC: I’m in every ‘hood. (Laughs) I’m in every ‘hood. So, to be honest, I can’t connect with kids in suburban areas. That’s just not me. I don’t know how to fake it. Give me the baddest little kids you have, and we’re going to connect, you know? I’m in every ‘hood. That’s just me, personally.
Me: Do you think — beyond your success as an athlete, and your stardom, that you have a message that resonates with young people in the ‘hood?
DMC: Absolutely. I grew up in a rough area, went to an all-black school, public school. I hear some of these messages, see the kids and the messages that they’re always getting — you’re going to be in jail, you’re going to be dead, whatever the case may be. I’m like, (bleep) them. Don’t let them tell you how your life’s going to be. I was one of those kids, telling me I ain’t gonna be (bleep). (Bleep) you, you know? That’s basically my message. You make yourself be whatever the hell you want to be, at the end of the day. Nobody can tell you what your destiny is. That’s the main message I’m pushing. To this day, there’s people telling me what I can’t do, or who I am as a person. (Bleep) you. And that’s the same message I tell them.
Me: Have the cops been receptive to you and the idea of keeping this going forward?
DMC: Absolutely. They’ve been great. Our guy, Hakeem Sylver (head of team security), he’s gotten us in contact with the police departments. They’ve been great. I’m not aware if there’s been any situation in Sacramento like some of the things that have happened. I don’t believe it has … From what I know, all of them have been open to the idea. That’s a great thing.