ATLANTA, Feb. 7 -- Bob Lanier wanted to run and hide. The last place on earth the future Hall of Fame center wanted to be was in Ms. Wilson’s grade school class with all of his friends staring at him. The verbal barb stung Lanier, courtesy of his classmate, Brooks.

NBA legend Bob Lanier shares his story with a young fan at NBA Jam Session Read to Achieve.
John Hareas/NBAE/Getty Images
“Do you think I have the wrong feet?” Lanier later asked his mom after school.

“Those are the feet you were given the day you were born, so I’m sure they are a perfect fit,” Lanier’s mom responded.

“They’re so big already,” said Lanier.

“Don’t mind your feet or what other kids say,” said Lanier’s mom. “Those feet will take you to great places.”

Lanier’s mom certainly knew best as her son went on to enjoy a successful college and NBA career in which he would eventually be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. Yet the lesson of taking the high road in ignoring a classmate’s teasing about the size of his feet while feeling comfortable with one’s self is what made a lasting impression on Lanier, who documented his experiences in a series of Scholastic books named after his boyhood nickname, L’il Dobber.

The new author displays a copy of L'il D.
John Hareas/NBAE/Getty Images
“The whole idea of the book was to focus on childhood experiences and use the parables that you learned and try to share them with people,” said Lanier, who co-wrote the four-part series with author and schoolteacher Heather Goodyear. “It’s important because there is a lot of critical decision making a young person experiences in dealing with peer pressure and it’s important that they don’t feel all alone.”

Lanier knows first hand about making a difference in the community and in people’s lives. The eight-time NBA All-Star and former J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award recipient serves as Special Assistant to NBA Commissioner David Stern and is at the forefront of the league’s community relations efforts and Read to Achieve initiatives.

The first book, Hey L’il D! It’s All in the Name, was released this month while the remaining three offerings– Stuck in the Middle, Take the Court and Out of Bounds – will roll out during the next three months.

“I really hope that kids will lock into the characters because if there is a connection with the characters, then they’ll learn from the lessons,” said Lanier.

This project is particularly special to Lanier because of the potential of long-term benefits of reaching children.

“It gives me a lot of inner pride,” said Lanier at the NBA’s Read to Achieve area at Jam Session, which features NBA/WNBA player and celebrity reading appearances throughout the weekend. “I feel that having a book out that can transcend to future generations long after I’m gone and still reach kids is certainly worthwhile. If it helps young people along the way or it helps a parent use it in terms of mentoring a child better, then my work will be successful."