Basketballer Kareem Rush is known for his moves on and off the court — along with playing in the NBA, Rush recently launched an R&B music career. But Rush also is committed to helping reverse childhood obesity through his new foundation, Kareem’s Kids, which will seek to get young people physically active and eating healthy. He took time for a Q&A with the Inside Track to discuss why he decided to join the childhood obesity movement — and why he considers a healthy body the most important tool to leading a good life.
First off, tell me a little bit about your foundation. What sort of activities does it focus on? How can people get involved to help?
Kareem's Kids is a foundation that is going to center around children's health. The most important part of your life is your body and mind. Your body physically cannot function properly unless it gets adequate nutrition, if your body cannot adequately function how do you expect kids to do well in school and sit in class all day when their body is physically distracted by the things it lacks? Giving kids unnatural manufactured food throughout their critical developmental years causes intense health problems. In that, all problems can be solved with teaching these kids how to properly take care of themselves, and then once kids are healthy we can help train them in basketball. We want to create a place where kids can go after school and by the time they leave, whether it be at midnight or 5 o'clock for dinner, they will have what they need to accomplish for themselves because they have all the right tools. Activities are centered around three of my passions: sports, music and the performing arts. [We] will have the first annual Kareem's Kids camp where kids can learn from professionals in each field. The camp will end with a camp showcase, where we have an all-star basketball game and talent show where the kids can showcase what they have learned. In addition… campers will also learn more about nutrition, education, and mental health. We plan to get a various group of interns, coaches, college professors, researchers, and volunteers involved to really create this mission of ONE LOVE.
There are a number of different issues you could focus on through your foundation. Why did you decide on childhood obesity and helping get kids active through basketball?
I love to work out. The best part about most of my life, I got to build a career off of physical activity. Now that I am looking to give back, I want to give back the best way I know how. I know what kids need in order to get healthy and properly develop into not only good basketball players, but good people, good brothers, good sisters, daughters, sons, cousins. Putting kids who struggle with the same problems really build off of each other and can encourage each other in a way that creates cohesion far more powerful than constantly being told what to do and criticized by the outside world. I understand that and because I can make a difference, I am going to.
As a professional athlete, what sort of role do you see sports playing in reducing obesity? How has being an athlete helped you maintain a healthy lifestyle?
Your entire life as a professional athlete revolves around your body, if you think about it, your body is your paycheck. With knowing that, I have decided to put my career and my passion for kids into one big dream come true. Now that I am in a place where I can help others, I want to help them whether it is with their weight problems, their shooting arm, or their physical condition. We want… to teach kids everything they need to know to be healthy in life. After all your body is the only consistent tool you can use in life, why not help as many kids as possible be the sharpest tool in the shed?
You've unfortunately had a number of injuries in your career. What advice would you have for people who get injured, especially young kids, so they aren't get sidelined for good?
Take your time! There is no need to rush into the game before you are ready. Your body is a biological tool, when you get hurt the only thing that it really needs most of all is time. Take your time on and off the court, otherwise injuries will keep happening. The pressure of having to get back into it fast because you felt good that one workout, trying so hard not to believe that the pain is real, it is REAL and you need to make sure to take your time.
Besides your foundation, what's up next for you?
We have a whole line of work coming up. Now that I have entered into so many different industries (music, fashion, film, philanthropic, I'm also an inventor with two of my inventions hitting stores soon), I have been slowly selecting a team of creators to help build up Rush Empire… stay tuned, it’s going to be big!
Photo courtesy Kareem Rush.