“I was willing to ask questions,” Vince Carter said. “I was never afraid to learn. Because of that, I’ve stuck around. I’ve learned different routines. I learned how this game works. I learned how this business works, and what it’s done for me is being able to sit in front of you today and tell this story.”
Carter, who will finish his four-decade NBA career with the Atlanta Hawks this season, shared this with an audience of Morehouse College (Ga.) students on Feb. 25. In a conversation with Atlanta native, Grammy-winning rapper and activist Michael “Killer Mike” Render, Carter used his athletic journey to touch on perseverance and the importance of education.
Before Carter and Killer Mike took to the stage to begin their intimate conversation, two Morehouse students recited a spoken-word poem honoring Carter’s professional career and his nickname: “Half-man, half-amazing.” After, the students showed a video lauding Carter’s recent 40-year milestone and reeled some of his famous highlights, including his dunk over the 7-foot-2-inch Frédéric Weis at the 2000 Summer Olympic Games.
While the event began by honoring Carter, it quickly transitioned into a conversation about race and overcoming adversity. As soon as the conversation began, Killer Mike labeled Carter as “one of the best examples for success.”
“You have been a positive, philanthropic force in the community, and you’ve just provided a damn good example of how to keep your nose clean and do things the right way,” Killer Mike said.
Carter reflected upon his childhood growing up in Florida and spoke fondly of his mother, Michelle Carter-Scott, who forced him to do his homework before he could play basketball.
“I have to give my family a lot of credit for instilling a student-athlete, not an athlete-student,” Carter said.
Carter and Killer Mike discussed how they balanced their lives in order to prioritize school while pursuing their respective passions. Killer Mike, a Morehouse dropout, said that leaving school was one of the worst mistakes he’s made in his life. While he did succeed in the music industry, Killer Mike noted that he got a record deal the same year he would’ve graduated.
Throughout the conversation, Killer Mike and Carter emphasized the importance of setting goals and dedication in pursuit of personal dreams. In an interview with The Emory Wheel, Carter and Killer Mike highlighted the importance of facilitating such conversations to give younger people the opportunity to learn from Carter and Killer Mike’s successes and failures.
“We all have different paths to be the successful people that we are today,” Carter told the Wheel. “Now, we can give these guys the lay of the land, so they don’t make those mistakes. Learn now, at a younger age, and you can probably become even more successful than [us].”
After going into depth about their successes, the two spoke candidly about their struggles. Killer Mike discussed his grapple with his weight, saying he admired athletes for their work ethic and motivation as he was struggling to work out. However, he proudly proclaimed that he had lost 23 pounds. He also talked about competing against younger rappers for stardom, something to which Carter could also relate.
“I’m 43, and I’m still playing against guys who are 20 playing great ball,” Carter said. “They could be my kids. So, I have to earn it. I gotta work every day just to keep up.”
Although he is in the twilight of his career, Carter is more than happy to bestow his wisdom upon and inspire future generations of athletes and students.
“I’ve never had a problem with sharing my secrets to somebody to become successful,” Carter told the Wheel. “That is success for me — that I am able to help the next man become what they want to become.”