Rick FoxSports — By Maurice Dwayne Smith on July 8, 2011 at 8:39 am
An Accomplished Basketball Star, Actor, Producer and Best of All, Good Person
By Maurice Dwayne Smith
In recent years, culminating with the many present day global financial debacles-home mortgage foreclosures, million dollar CEO payouts, billion dollar bailouts, global recession, record job losses, escalating sports salaries and bonuses of both players and coaches, it’s refreshing to see business professionals that are operating from the heart. Professionals that embrace family values, ethics and shun the concept that money is the focal point of everything profitable are a rarity in today’s sports.
In fact, there are few professionals that would halt work and make a woman in labor giving birth, the ultimate priority. Any work stoppage could mean the loss of millions of dollars, especially in these trying financial times. Interestingly enough, one such occurrence happened when an ex-Los Angeles Laker basketball player, during an NBA playoff game, opted to be with his now ex-wife, actress Vanessa Williams, instead of playing in a scheduled playoff game. This act is unheard of, especially in this era of “me- first, and I’ve got to get paid” mentality. Not only was this a decision that put his job-a lucrative, multi-million dollar, NBA basketball career in danger, but it also potentially shifted the power balance between both teams during a playoff encounter.
This man is Rick Fox, a man that grew up on a small Caribbean island. He is a bi-racial man, whose dad is from the Caribbean. His late mother, an Olympic track and field star, was from Canada. I jokingly asked him if it is the Caribbean or the Canadian, that lifted him to athletic greatness in basketball. Looking more like a chilled out student from the nearby Santa Monica College, than a potential NBA Hall of Famer, father of three, actor, and multi-millionaire, Fox, leaning against his grey hatchback, jokingly replied, “It was the combination of both of my parents that did it.” I asked him if there had been any hint of athletic greatness in his play as a child that alerted him to his destiny. “Man, the first week that I arrived in Warsaw, Indiana, straight out of the Caribbean, I stepped into my high school coach’s office and told him that I wanted to be a star on his team, play well enough to get a college basketball scholarship to The University of North Carolina, and then go to the NBA,” he said. “My coach gave me the tools and then I worked hard to implement them. My mom’s genes, being an Olympic athlete, gave me the athletic pedigree, that allowed for my athleticism.”
Interestingly enough, Fox explained, “My mom was not that influential for my success in sports. It was my dad who instilled in me that there was a possibility that something positive could result from my pursuits in not only sports, but in anything that I wanted to do in life.” I congratulated him on his successes in both sports and acting. He went on to say that his mom instilled the quality of humility in him and provided critical reinforcement, which made a positive effect on his life. “My mom was fearful, as she was unsuccessful in the Olympics, and she had that same fear for me regarding my sports aspirations,” said Fox, who as an actor, worked on the TV shows “Melrose Place,” and “The Big Bang Theory,” among others. “My dad reassured me that something positive could come out of my endeavors in anything.”
But who were his influences and which people were the most influential in his life? “I can’t discredit anyone that has helped shape me, from my mom and dad to my high school coach in Warsaw, Indiana, Coach Dean Smith, at the University of North Carolina, Coach Phil Jackson of the Los Angeles Lakers, and the late great broadcaster, Chick Hearn,” said the athlete and actor. “They‘ve all done their part in making me into the man that I am today.”
Rick explained that he was happy that America,”The States” was assimilating his culture via rap, reggae, food, and its people. “I am happy to see that the tourists from The States go to the Caribbean and fall in love with our culture, the people, the water, the music, and then bring it back to The States and infiltrate it throughout America,” he explained. “I was kickin’ it with one of Bob Marley’s sons, as he was performing at The Hollywood Bowl, and it was just nice to see the great reception that he received. The people in The States love our music.” I chose this as a chance to dig further into the area of love. Rick told me that was personal, but I asked, “Are you, as Shaggy, the Jamaican entertainer refers to himself, “a coconut lover?” Fox, laughing, told me, “I am a mango lover.”
Rick Fox is proud of the legacy that the Lakers left from their championship run of 2001. “I feel that the Lakers run of five championships in the 80’s was great, but the three teams that I were on were on par with them, except for that one team that was just unbeatable during the 80-81 era,” said Fox. “But our team of 2001 was 2nd, tied with their 81 team, in terms of greatness, in my opinion. We were on par with all of their other teams. We had a stranglehold on Sacramento during the playoffs, and when (Robert) Horry hit that shot at the buzzer, that was all we needed, we had a stranglehold on them on the court and off from that point on. We were unbeatable.”
At that point, during the fall of 2007, I asked Rick Fox what the Lakers needed to do to reclaim their championship perch. He said, “The Lakers just need to play as a team, and the fans need to be patient and be aware that these things take time. Some other changes, if they are made, will put them back on course. I also wish Doug Christie the best.” Doug Christie and Rick had a well documented tussle while Christie was a member of the Sacramento Kings.
As you can see, Rick Fox, who also appeared on the ABC series “Dancing With The Stars” in 2010, and the movie “Meet The Browns,” is a man who is an accomplished basketball star, actor, producer and a good person. Not many people are as genuine in their communications as he was that day with me. Thus, if we had more people like him, we would have a better world. Maybe we’d all be as “Foxy” as Rick if we would just breathe and be real with all the world, using all of our talents, and reaching for all that God has given us.