Amar'e Stoudemire on Judaism, education and his new kids' book
Amar'e Stoudemire, 29, the captain of the New York Knicks, has just launched a new series of children's books with Scholastic, targeted at ages eight to 14, called STAT (Standing Tall and Talented) after his childhood nickname. Stoudemire lives in Greenwich Village with his fiancée, Alexis Welch, and their three children, Ar'e, 7, Amar'e Jr., 5, and Assata, 4. He will be signing copies of the first book in the series, the semi-autobiographical "Home Court," at noon Monday, Aug. 20 at the Citicorps Barnes & Noble, 160 Ea. 54th St.
Q: What would you most like to see accomplished in NYC?
A: For the fans in NYC to have an NBA championship!
Q: Twenty percent of New Yorkers lack even basic reading skills. Are you trying to turn the tide of illiteracy by writing books that will appeal to kids?
A: Yeah. All young men need to read more - and not just young African American men. I want to help everyone succeed in that. When I was a kid, I'd have to do book reports and read books on Andrew Jackson, Jackie Robinson and Rumpelstiltskin - yeah, the fairy tale! But when I went to the book fair, I always headed straight for the sports books. I wanted to do an on-the-court book for children that would be fun to read.
Q Do you read to your own children?
A Every single night.
Q Do any of the Knicks, or other NBA players, have problems reading?
A Most of the players on the team do a great job reading, but it's the children I'm concerned about. So many kids want to be in the NBA, but you have to have a Plan B and even a Plan C because there are only so many jobs for basketball players. Even if you get into the NBA, you need good reading skills so you understand your contracts and stuff. Education is the most important part of anyone's life.
Q You sometimes Tweet in Hebrew. Do you consider yourself Jewish?
A I'm a student of the Hebrew culture, which I love. I consider myself spiritual, but not religious. I don't follow any particular religion.
Q Your book describes how you outsmarted older, bigger boys who bullied you off your neighborhood basketball court and how you won it back by outsmarting them instead of fighting. You're 6-feet-11 inches now, but were you bullied as a child?
A I wasn't bullied as a child, but I wanted to address the topic to discourage bullying. I also wanted to show kids how they can settle an argument with their brains. The smarter you are, the better you are at everything and the more successful you are.
Q The big brother who is depicted as so loving and supportive in "Home Court" - is he supposed to be Hazell, who died in February in a car accident?
A Yeah. My brother in the book is called Junior and is definitely based on him. He's the true reason for my success. When I was a kid in Florida, he was my guardian angel. I looked up to him and wanted to be like him.
Q You dropped an 8.5 carat ring on your fiancée, in Paris this June. So when is the wedding already?
A We haven't set a date. We don't have all the details worked out yet!
Q Our fashion editor wants to know when you'll debut your men's clothing line. What's up with that?
A I'm still talking to people. Nothing's really happened with it yet, but it will. Stay tuned!
Q What makes a real New Yorker?
A A true New Yorker is someone who is in Madison Square Garden who has a Stoudemire jersey on: That's a true New Yorker.
Q And that's not a self serving answer at all. My boss wants me to ask you how the Knicks are going to do this season.
A It's going to be a very exciting season. We're looking forward to great success.
Q Will there be any injuries - self inflicted or otherwise?
A No injuries!
Q What's the most important investment a New Yorker can make?
A Probably a Metro card. Traveling is such a big part of New York City.
Q So you take the subway?
A I don't take the subway personally. I drive.