Before Arron Afflalo and Kendrick Lamar were perfecting their respective crafts and performing in front of thousands on a daily basis, they were just two classmates at the same school.
Afflalo, who has enjoyed an 11-year NBA career, began his path to success at Centennial High School located in the heart of Compton, Calif. While Arron was grinding and becoming a budding star for his high school’s basketball team, he also began to diversify his interests off the court, which included operating his own business.
This was no ordinary business, however, as Afflalo was in the market of buying and selling donuts to his fellow high schoolers before classes began. While he found some satisfaction from his small profits, Afflalo soon began to aim a little higher and entered the business of downloading music on his computer and selling burned CDs. This is where he and Lamar would cross paths.
“This one guy from my school named Kendrick Duckworth was really into hip-hop. He asked me to burn him Jay Z’s ‘Reasonable Doubt’,” Afflalo wrote in his article on The Player’s Tribune. “Kendrick eventually started making his own music. He got pretty good at it, too. You’ve probably heard of him. He goes by the name Kendrick Lamar.”
As their paths diverged from Centennial High School, Kendrick and Arron went on to find quite a bit of success in their fields of work. Though, unlike one of Afflalo’s signature moves on the court, the connection these two had to each other did not fade away.
Lamar’s song titled “Black Boy Fly” heavily featured lyrics directly referencing Afflalo, tying together metaphors about how Arron’s basketball accomplishments contrasted the harsh realities facing their peers at school and in the city they called home.
“I used to be jealous of Arron Afflalo
He was the one to follow
He was the only leader foreseeing brighter tomorrows,” Lamar rapped.
“It's 2004 and I'm watching him score thirty
Remember vividly how them victory points had hurt me
'Cause every basket was a reaction or a reminder
That we was just moving backwards.”
Kendrick continues to be a voice for his community and for the masses through his music. He has gone on to release albums that were nominated and won several Grammy Awards - including “good kid, m.A.A.d city” and “To Pimp a Butterfly”.
Most recently, Lamar dropped his newest album entitled “DAMN.” this past Friday and has already begun to garner critical acclaim for the release.
Though their paths may have traveled in varying directions, these men continue to build their respective legacies and will always share a connection, thanks in part to just another burned CD.