Lauryn Marie Burks: Published First Book at Only 5 Years Old

by Karl Nelson II, Intern Media 

How often do you find yourself making the following statement?

“There are not enough hours in the day.”

For me, that quote is very much so a part of my daily life.

Well, the same goes for Lauryn Marie Burks, a young author who published her first children’s book at just 5 years old.

While adults often feel the weight of the world on their shoulders, it’s important to remember that children feel the pressure of the world too, even though their stresses are uniquely different.

For some young people, they’re juggling things like school, sports, friendships, peer pressures, and more.

As for Lauryn, even at 5, at the time, she dealt with the pressure of “staying on task” and adapting to her parents’ sometimes “hurried” lives.

It was challenges such as those that prompted Lauryn to write her first book — “My 100 Hands.”

The title of the book was inspired by something in particular that Lauryn said to her father one day when she was rushing to put on her clothes, shoes and coat.

“Daddy, I wish I had 100 hands,” Lauryn said, at the time.

That statement sparked a later response from her dad.

“What would you do if you had 100 hands?” he asked Lauryn.

It was that question that caused Lauryn to ponder.

“This sounds like a children’s book,” Lauryn thought to herself.

Well, being the “bright, articulate, imaginative child” that she is, Lauryn began writing “My 100 Hands.”

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Lauryn created characters in the book — “hands” that had the ability to assist her with tasks like homework and could also cheer her up when she was feeling down.

The book was such a success that both children and adults happily supported it, and I was one of those people.

In fact, months ago, while in my hometown of Baltimore, I visited my church, Bridgeway Community Church. As I set among the thousands of members in our congregation, there Lauryn was.

She had popped up on the big screen in a pre-recorded interview with a member of the church.

I was both impressed and inspired by how Lauryn carried herself during the interview and with how well she articulated the creative approach she took in writing her first book and now other published works — “My 100 Hands Go To School” and “Pretty Hand Goes To Paris.”

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Following the church service, Lauryn was in the lobby signing several copies of her books for people like myself, who wanted to support her.

I could have easily walked out of the church that day without finding out more about Lauryn’s story, but the true journalist in me wouldn’t allow me to make such a mistake.

I’m glad I made the decision to support Lauryn because now Intern Media has added such a unique and inspirational new journey to its wall — a journey that’s far from over, as Lauryn continues to impress readers of every age.

Lauryn is setting the stage for more young writers and creative thinkers, who are also on the rise.

Take a closer look at our interview in its entirety and let your imaginations run wild just like Lauryn’s does as a young author.

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The Interview

Q. What made you want to write a book?

A. Well, my dad was getting dressed one morning and he was rushing me to do stuff like put on my clothes, my shoes and my coat. I went up to him and I said: “Daddy, I wish I had 100 hands.”

He didn’t listen to me at the time, but then all of a sudden he came back to me and he said: “What would you do if you had 100 hands?”

I responded, saying, “Well, daddy, I could get dressed easier if I had 100 hands. I could make lemonade. I could clean my room.”

From there, I came up with a big list of ideas and then all of a sudden it sounded like a children’s book to me.

Imaginatively, I wished I had 100 hands, so my 100 hands kind of popped up at my door step. They were now mine and were ready to help me do stuff. So, that’s where the title came from.

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Q. If you could choose three hands to keep with you everyday, which ones would it be and why?

A. My first hand would be Smarty Hand because he helps me with my homework, and if I didn’t understand something at school, I’d have him there to help me.

My second hand would be Pretty Hand because she’s really nice. We both like art, books and all kinds of other things.

My third one would be Happy Hand because any time that I’m down or I don’t feel well and I just need someone to cheer me up, I always know who to call; Happy Hand. He makes life fun and interesting, and even though he gets into trouble, he’s still one of my favorites.

Q. How did it feel to have so many people buying your book at Bridgeway?

A. It felt great to see all of the people coming and buying my book, giving some good reviews on it and it just felt nice to see my name in the spotlight. I’m just happy that I accomplished all of these things. It made me feel positive.

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Q. You’ve done group readings with other children. What is the best part about reading to other children? 

A. The best part is seeing all of the happy faces when they come in and when they leave. It’s great reading to other people and seeing that they appreciate my work.

I get to see the school and the children and what they’re learning. It just makes me so happy when I go to schools and see their projects of their “hands” and I love it because it’s really cool. It’s really cool to see the different art projects and the artwork on the walls about the hands from my book. It just makes me happy.

Q. How have your parents helped you as a young author? 

A. My dad helped me edit my story. He’s helped me print and edit since I was 5, when I started. I mainly wrote the story, and it was fun writing.

My mom and my dad have pushed me and made me feel like I can do anything that I put my mind to. So, I’m just happy about that. They help me do a lot of things.

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Lauryn,

Thank you for sharing your story with Intern Media and its audience. More importantly, thank you for being an inspiration to the youth and to adults with your creativity as an author. I wish you much more success in the years to come, and I’m confident that you’ll continue to have an impact on the people you come across just like you had an impact on me. God bless you and your family. Welcome to the Intern Media family!

Karl Nelson II, Founding Editor of Intern Media

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Intern Media: Children are the future

by Karl Nelson II, Intern Media 

If you’ve ever doubted the notion that the youth are our future, it’s young people like Katrina Surcel-Debes and Lauryn Marie Burks whose lives serve as a constant reminder that the future of our communities and the world at large truly does lie in the hands of our children.

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Lauryn Burks, Child Author
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Katrina Surcel-Debes, Entrepreneur and student at the Park School of Baltimore

What these two young ladies have accomplished thus far is proof that investing in today’s youth is the smartest thing we can do as a society.

Lauryn is set to be my first Intern Media feature of 2017, but her story takes me back to a very special and memorable moment in the two-year history of my interview series; my interview with Katrina at the Park School of Baltimore in the summer of 2015.

At the time, Katrina had just finished the third grade as a Lower School student at the Park School, my alma mater.

While balancing school, sports, and childhood, Katrina still managed to develop her own business, Kiki’s Harvest All Natural Granola — making granola from scratch and selling it to local buyers.

Katrina is fearless, and with the unwavering support from two loving parents who encourage her to think outside of the box, it’s no mistake that she’s where she is today.

It’s interesting how one can live on this earth for many years, but experience life in a whole new way by simply tapping into the talent and youth of a child.

When I interviewed Katrina on that summer day, I learned about the makings and dealings of granola — something I had never really given much thought to before.

It was Katrina who opened my eyes to something new, and without even realizing it, she taught me about the nature of running a successful business from the ground up — something even some adults have never been able to master.

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Katrina’s story is evidence that you don’t have to be an established and successful adult to start something and to create a lasting platform. You can be a child and be more ready than ever to cement a career of your own.

To hear from a third grader, at the time, who didn’t skip any steps in what can be a difficult process in running a business, and to see her actually embracing that level of responsibility, that was reassuring for me.

The fact that Katrina became a business owner as an elementary school student gives me all the confidence in the world, knowing that she’ll be shaping society for the better for many more years to come.

Katrina,

Thank you for inspiring me. I know that most adults will tell you that it’s children who can learn a thing or two from us, and that’s true. However, I want you to know that it’s adults like myself who can also learn a thing or two from the youth. And that’s what happened here. I’ll never forget how much fun it was to interview you on that beautiful summer day at the Park School, and having your mom there in support of you was special as well. You’re an amazingly talented kid, but more importantly you’re a person of great character and your future is beyond bright. Continue to be a game changer, not only at Park, but in life in general. I will continue to follow your journey and I promise you that I won’t be surprised at all to see you change the world around you for the better because you have a loving family behind you, a strong educational background, and talent that cannot be taught. You’ve been apart of the Intern Media family since our interview and you’ll always be! Thanks Katrina.

Karl Nelson II, Founding Editor of Intern Media 

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Gloria Mayfield Banks Built A Multimillion-dollar Platform, Didn’t Allow Dyslexia and Domestic Violence Be “The End” To Her Story

by Karl Nelson II, Intern Media 

“I teach ordinary people how to create extraordinary lives!” – Dr. Gloria Mayfield Banks 

Have you ever found yourself in the “ordinary” category during this journey they call life?

If so, that’s actually good news because Dr. Gloria Mayfield Banks has mastered the art of helping people transform their lives from “ordinary to extraordinary,” and she started with herself.

Today, Gloria is an internationally renowned motivational success strategist and sales trainer with a Bachelor’s degree from Howard University, an MBA from Harvard University and an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.

She has built a multimillion-dollar enterprise as an author, a founding partner of Charisma Factor, and as an Elite Executive National Sales Director with Mary Kay where she holds the No. 1 ranking in the nation out of 3.6 million women around the world.

Gloria recently published a book, Quantum Leaps, which highlights 10 specific steps to help you soar and take your life to extraordinary heights.

All of that being said though, those who know Gloria’s full story would likely tell you that her life is nothing short of a testimony, given the odds that fell in her lap early in life.

Banks was diagnosed with dyslexia at a young age and still faces challenges because of it today. That’s not all though. Earlier in her Mary Kay career, Banks became a victim of domestic violence abuse in a relationship that she was in at the time.

To some, these are obstacles that usually have a bad ending.

That wasn’t the case for Gloria though.

She didn’t allow her dyslexia or experience with domestic violence be the ending to her story. For her, those challenges were just the beginning of an amazing transformation.

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Curious as to what that transformation looks like?

Here you go:

  • Gloria has been best described as “Energy in Motion!” as a prolific businesswoman with high energy and an inspirational teaching style.
  • Gloria has trained professionals in six continents, helping them achieve new levels of success.
  • She’s set down with Oprah Winfrey to talk about women empowerment and girls in leadership.
  • She’s shared her secrets of success with national media audiences, appearing on CNN with Soledad O’Brien, ABC-TV, and CNBC with Donny Deutsch on “The Big Idea.”
  • Banks has been featured in “Fortune,” “Black Enterprise,” “Glamour,” and “Ebony” magazines.
  • Harvard Business School documented Gloria’s success in a case study titled, “Gloria Hilliard Mayfield at Mary Kay Cosmetics.”

Banks is now happily married to Ken Banks and they share four adult children. During our interview, Banks described her relationship with her family as pure “joy.”

My talk with Gloria was more than just an interview, it was an experience and I now encourage you to enter into this life changing experience yourself and get ready to take your career and your life to a level where it’s never been before!

See the additional pages for this exclusive interview on the keys to success, the state of the black community, education, Quantum Leaps, reaching your full potential, Gloria’s interview with Oprah Winfrey, how she overcame the challenges of dyslexia and domestic violence, and more! 

Alvin Ailey Dancer Chalvar Monteiro Talks International Tour, Fashion, Misty Copeland and much more

by Karl Nelson II, Intern Media

Freestyle dancing enables one to express themselves. It’s a safe place for many dancers to create moves that aren’t planned or calculated, but contrived freely. This form of dancing allows a dancer to personalize their movements, giving it their own custom flavor. These dances are perceived as modish, fresh and fun. Freestyling is about freedom in movement to any genre of music.

In case you’re wondering what picture I’m trying to paint here, allow me to introduce you to a professional dancer who knows a lot about the art of freestyle dancing; Chalvar Monteiro of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

Chalvar has been known to post eye-catching videos of himself on his personal social media pages doing freestyle dances. The settings are constantly changing whether it be a concept video as Chalvar walks through Times Square among the people, or a candid video of him dancing freely while on tour.

As I gave much thought to this idea of freestyle dancing  while pinpointing what I wanted the angle to be for this story, I couldn’t help but create a correlation between Chalvar as a dancer and my audience as individuals with their own sense of abandon, or freedom, so to speak.

Some of you reading this story now are educators, musicians, CEO’s, athletes, entrepreneurs, and more. Well, it’s important for you all to know that no matter what your passion or craft is, the healthiest thing you can do is to personalize what you do and find a way to enjoy your craft in a custom sort of way.

Allow me to use my craft as a way to better explain this long but necessary tangent. As a Digital Reporter in the media industry and as an entrepreneur as well, writing, communicating and creating content is a part of my daily life. And while these things require me to study, learn and produce, I’ve never neglected the freestyle aspect of my craft.

What am I referring to?

I’m referring to the moment in my busy day when I sit down and try to relax, as I write and speak freely about topics that are relevant to my life and to the lives of my audience members. You see, no matter how much work I do with the company I work for or even with the interviews and columns that I execute, I’d be nothing without my ability to be able to modernize my work and practice it freely without barriers.

That’s what Chalvar does as a dancer.

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Does he have specific dances and techniques that he must follow as a member of Alvin Ailey?

Of course he does, but perhaps it’s those things mixed with the fact that he loves his craft enough to spend time in the public and in the studio just dancing within himself, that makes him an even greater addition to one of the most prolific dance companies in the world.

That being said though, if you’re not careful, you’ll find yourself jumping on the bandwagon after seeing the name “Alvin Ailey” throughout this story time and time again. Instead, what I’d challenge you to do is embrace this opportunity to get to know Chalvar the person — the same guy who worked tirelessly for years to become one of the youngest and few males to grace the Alvin Ailey stage.

Simply put, the boy is bad.

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I knew who Chalvar was early on in my college days when I started dating Aubree Brown, who is a good friend of Chalvar’s and who danced with Ailey II in the past.

At that time, Chalvar was attending SUNY Purchase College, one of the top performing arts colleges in the country. He left his mark on their dance program, dancing in a mirage of shows, choreographing performances and spending many nights locked away in the dance studio, perfecting his craft.

And even then, when in most of his performances he followed elite choreography, that didn’t stop him from decompressing with freestyle dances when he could, keeping the creativity and personal connection to the art form very much so alive.

Monteiro might be a newer addition to Ailey, but he’s not new to the company lifestyle as he was dancing professionally before he joined the company.

In fact, it was his accolades after college that contributed to Alvin Ailey’s second company, Ailey II, bringing him on a couple of years ago, where he became a quick commodity among other members of that team, including Brown, who recently added a notch to her belt, performing at the VMA’s at Madison Square Garden with the iconic Beyoncé Knowles.

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It was Monteiro’s success with Ailey II that gave him some leverage as he auditioned for the first company, where he ultimately transitioned to, adding his name to a decorated list of legendary dancers who have been apart of Alvin Ailey’s long history.

Today, the young talented dancer is making a name for himself, one performance at a time, for a company that’s been known as a New York powerhouse since 1958.

He’s currently on tour with the company, traveling and seeing the great things this world has to offer overseas while doing what he has a love and passion for the most; dancing.

Chalvar’s story is a testament that you can’t let others hold you back from being who you are and from not just doing what you love, but doing it differently than the norm.

That’s what Chalvar is doing with his life right now. This isn’t a guy who’s worried about what you think about his decision to live his dream, dancing at a professional level. His focus is different.

For him, it seems to be more so about inspiring those who see him dance and changing their perspective about the art form for the better.

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Take a look at our interview which was set in the busiest and most historic attraction in New York; Times Square. We covered everything you could possibly imagine from his run with Alvin Ailey thus far, the international tour they’re on now and how the amazing Misty Copeland has inspired and influenced his dance career.

You’ll hear it from Chalvar himself at the end of the interview, but it wouldn’t be right if I didn’t also say it. CHOOSE TO BE INSPIRED.

 

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Chalvar,

It was a treat featuring you in an interview for my platform, Intern Media, in Times Square — a very historic place in the Big Apple. You were great man. You absolutely owned that interview and I appreciate your openness to the tough questions I presented lol. I’m proud of you man. It’s crazy to say that this is only the beginning for you, considering you’ve attained so much success so soon, but I’m going to say it! This is only the beginning for you, and I’m excited to see what’s in store for your future. You’re apart of the Intern Media wall now, and we’re grateful to have you as part of the family bro. Continue to be great and inspire us all as you already have been!

Karl Nelson II, Founding Editor of Intern Media 

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Pro Basketball Player Donté Greene: When First-Class Character Meets Undeniable Athletic Talent

by Karl Nelson II, Intern Media 

He was one of the most prolific basketball players to come out of Baltimore. Among the many Division I options that were on the table for him, he chose to take his talents to Syracuse University where he averaged over 17 points and over 7 rebounds a game, setting a record for 3-pointers made (90).

Drafted by the NBA as a 2008 first-round pick, he kicked off his NBA career with a 40-point debut in the NBA’s Summer League in Las Vegas, before going on to spend the first four years of his professional career with the Sacramento Kings.

These are just some of the accolades for Donté Greene. Perhaps though, the most imposing thing about this young brother is exactly what the title to this story says; “first-class character” and “undeniable talent.”

It’s that combination that separates Greene from the pack.

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I’ve come across so many people who have had off-putting experiences with athletes, whether it was because of their character or something else. That’s why it’s important for us to highlight those athletes who exemplify great character, a heart for others, and who represent positivity.

That’s who Donté Greene is.

Greene has done an amazing job at taking the “highs with the lows,” as he would call it.

Perhaps though, the most imposing thing about this young brother is exactly what the title to this story says; “first-class character” and “undeniable talent.”

What are those highs and lows for Greene?

Well, his career hasn’t necessarily been a walk in the park. The Baltimore breaded professional ball player has dealt with his share of adversity, and believe it or not, it started on the night of the 2008 NBA Draft — a night where he was expected to be selected early in the first round. Instead, he was snagged as one of the last few picks in the first round.

Greene used that as motivation though, as he put on the most impressive showing in his Summer League debut, proving to his fellow athletes and to coaches that he belonged in an NBA uniform.

From there, his NBA journey began, but it wasn’t too long after that when Greene would face adversity again. This time though, it was a move from the NBA to the NBA Development League (D-League). This move came after he set on the bench for most of his rookie season.

While some players would have assessed the situation, viewing it as a major set back, Greene did just the opposite. He viewed it as an opportunity to help his organization and get better in the process so that when he did get an opportunity to move back up, he’d be ready.

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Greene put on a show during his brief stint in the D-League, and days later, he was back in a Sacramento Kings uniform. After that, he would experience the business aspect of basketball, as he was released from the team in 2013, ultimately bouncing around the league a bit before ending up overseas.

According to Greene, landing overseas was probably the hardest thing he’s had to deal with, but not only for the obvious reasons of being on the outside looking in as far as the NBA goes. The thing that hurt him the most about the transition was being away from his family, specifically his kids who mean the world to him.

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Well, another transition could be approaching for Greene if he continues to have success overseas. That’s a turning point that the Orangeman says he’s ready for, considering he hasn’t laced up his kicks for an NBA game since 2013.

Greene says he doesn’t take his position in life for granted though and that he’s had a lot of time to mature as a player and as a person, even though his children know him to be a “big kid,” always leaving a favorable lasting impression on those he comes in contact with.

Greene is the perfect role model for other young and older athletes out there today, as he exemplifies a love for the game of basketball and a level of character that keeps him involved in the community and grateful everyday for the opportunity he’s been given to provide for his children.

Checkout our exclusive interview below and CHOOSE TO BE INSPIRED.

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Q. Something that most people might not know about you. You were born in Germany, which I believe had a lot to do with your mother working for the National Security Agency (NSA), at the time. Tell me a little bit about that.

A. My mom worked for the NSA 13 years before she had me. Germany was great! I lived there until I was four years old and then came back for another year between the ages of 12 and 13. Living overseas helped me become more cultured. Living among different nationalities and lifestyles…I thought it was cool. Looking back on it, I’m glad it worked out the way that it did.

Q. You were selected in the first round of the 2008 NBA Draft. The one-and-done notion is something that’s received a lot of attention for years now, especially after years of seeing guys go to the league straight out of high school. What influenced your decision to leave Syracuse for the NBA after your freshman year? 

A. I went into Syracuse knowing it was a possibility for me to get drafted after one year. I just wanted to go to school, work as hard as I could and get better. After my freshman year, I knew I had a child on the way and a family to take care of. So, the decision was a no-brainer for me. My dream was within my reach, so I had to take it.

Q. You’re widely known by your fan-base for the five seasons you spent as a Sacramento King. A lot happened during that time, including a short stint in the D-League in 2009. Can you explain what those five years meant for your basketball career and what you learned about yourself during that time?

A. It was great for me. I love Sacramento as a city and the fans really took me in. Great family town that loves their basketball. The D-league helped me get my game back on track after sitting for half my rookie year. It was actually a lot of fun playing with guys who had been pros for a minute trying to get a look in the NBA. But for my career, it helped me see the business side of being a pro, learning the ends and outs of everything.

Q. You represented the USA twice (2006 and 2007) in the FIBA games. What was it like playing in the FIBA games?

A. It was a blessing. To be able to walk out there with that USA on your chest and represent your country was a great feeling. Also, the traveling part. We were in Serbia for about two weeks, having a blast sight seeing and experiencing a different culture. Playing against younger players, who I would see later in the NBA, was crazy! Definitely a trip to remember.

Q. You actually attended school in Japan when you were younger. Do you recall what that experience was like?

A. Japan was beautiful! When my mom told us we were moving there, I didn’t know what to think. Would I like the food? Are people going to speak English? Once I got there, I realized they knew more about the American culture than I did. My three years there was great though. I still have many friends from my early school days who I’m in contact with.

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Q. You won a gold medal in the 2006 FIBA games. How special was it to win a gold medal while you were still in high school? 

A. Very special!  Not everybody can say, “I won a gold medal for my country doing something I love.” It was a tremendous honor and something I will never forget.

Q. Donté, you went on a tear in your freshman year at Syracuse, averaging over 17 points per game and over 7 rebounds per game. You started in all 35 games and you also set a record for 3-pointers made (90). No wonder you were a first-round pick following that performance. How did it feel to add your name to the elite list of players to come through that program, specifically Carmelo Anthony who also grew up in Baltimore and played at your alma mater, Towson Catholic?

A. It was a dream come true. When I started to take basketball seriously at the age of 13, all I wanted was to get a scholarship at a big-time school and make it to the NBA. Now, to follow behind Melo was the icing on the cake. Even though I didn’t kill like he did, I got my name in the record books and I can always call myself an Orangemen.

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Q. You scored 40 points in your NBA Summer League debut. Explain your mindset going into that game, a game that set the tone for the start of your NBA career?

A. I had probably the biggest chip on my shoulder out of all NBA rookies. I was predicted to go mid-first round and slipped to the end of the first round. I wanted to go out and prove all those NBA teams wrong that looked over me. I wanted to show that I was here for a reason and that I belonged in the NBA. And that’s what I did, haha.

Q. You might have been sent to the D-League for a few games, but after some great performances you were brought right back up. Explain how you were able to succeed in the midst of that adversity.

A. When I got down there, I didn’t look at it as a punishment. I looked at it as a reward for me sitting on the bench knowing I could be out there helping my team. I went down to the D-League to have fun and get better. What made it easier was I was with a great group of guys who just wanted to play ball and win. We did just that.

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LAS VEGAS, NV – JULY 19: Donté Greene #13 of the Memphis Grizzlies looks on versus the Denver Nuggets during NBA Summer League on July 19, 2013 at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jack Arent/NBAE via Getty Images)

Q. In the last three years, you’ve bounced around a bit from the NBA to overseas play. What has that experience been like for you? How have you handled the ups and downs and remained positive through it all?

A. For me, I think it’s helped. I’m definitely more mature. I had some growing up to do and I believe I’m on the right path to step foot back in the NBA and be successful. You have to understand that life is full of ups and downs. You have to take the highs just as good as your lows. Only worry about what you can control and leave the rest to the big guy upstairs. Believe in yourself and anything is possible, as long as you put that work in.

Q. Where are you in your professional career today? Do you have plans to try to get back in the NBA, or are you focused on dominating the league you’re in now?

A. I want to get back in the NBA. I think it’s time for me to come back home and hoop…but just trying to prove myself all over again. Being in Dubai for two years kind of hurt me. I have to go out, put the work in and show what I can do.

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Q. You’ve always been a humble person and a guy with a lot of character, which is why I’m not surprised you’ve experienced success in your life. Speaking of which, you have children who are very near and dear to you.Talk about how having your kids has changed your perspective on what success means and on life in general?

A. My kids are my EVERYTHING!!! I do this for them. I always wanted to be the young cool dad, and to be fair I’m the biggest kid you might meet. When I’m on the court and I might need a little pick me up, I think about them to get some energy. When I’m overseas and missing them like crazy, I’ll tell myself it’s for them to have a better life. It’s not just about you when you have kids, and I’m blessed to have my little ones.

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Donté,

My man, thanks for taking this interview and for being so open about your journey thus far. It’s crazy to think that just years ago, we were in open gyms on the same court and walking the Towson Catholic hallways. I always respected your character and your talent of course. Made it easy to root for you to win in life bro and that’s exactly what you’re doing today. Continue to set an example for those around you as a great father, a guy active in the community, and as a pro athlete putting in the work on the court. Welcome to the Intern Media family. Your story has just been added to the Intern Media wall and we’re family bro, so you already know the support will continue. Be blessed fam. 

Karl Nelson II, Founding Editor of Intern Media 

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If New York Is ‘The Place Where Stars Are Born,’ Then Consider Pop Artist Renita Cotton Reborn

by Karl Nelson II, Intern Media

BROOKLYN — It’s one thing for an artist to have work ethic, but when you couple that with an “It” factor, that artist is destined for greatness.

Pop singer and songwriter, Renita Cotton, has both the work ethic and the God-given talent to take her career to great heights, and she’s already off to an impressive start.

Her singing career might have only started a little over a year ago, but there’s something about her stage presence, confidence and pizzazz that leads me to believe she might have told a ‘little white lie’ when I asked her how long she’s been pursuing a singing and songwriting career professionally, in which she responded so modestly, “So, I’d say, professionally, probably about a year and a half I started doing some background work for people.”

I interviewed the young entertainer this past spring, and after spending some time with her on that beautiful day in Brooklyn, I now understand why she’s climbing up the ladder so quickly.

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Renita has that trait most people would kill to have.  Her mix between discipline and the assurance that she has in her ability is immediately evident when you interact with her.

Renita was the perfect featured talent for an interview that was set in one of the busiest and most attractive sites in Brooklyn, NY; Brooklyn Bridge Park.

She came prepared with her exuberance and her stylist, showing me just how seriously she takes the idea of being a walking brand.

She’s a young New Yorker who has figured it out, so to speak, making “the city that never sleeps” work in her favor.  As many of you already know, New York is the place for stars to form and chase their dreams and aspirations from the ground up.  If it wasn’t, then I most certainly wouldn’t be here myself.

Renita’s ability to not only write her own music, but to also do a masterful job of performing it in front of audiences of all sizes, is proof that she’s built for this. And if she ever slips up and let’s that left arm hang too much while on that stage, I’m sure her mother will correct her, maybe saying something like “You know you have that one arm that’s a little dead there.” A comment that Renita would likely respond to by saying, “Well, haha. Thanks mom,” with a slight bit of innocent sarcasm.

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Renita understands the concept of “journey,” but that hasn’t stopped her from carrying herself as if she’s already reached her destination.

It might be hard for some of us to admit it at times, but I think it’s safe to say that in whatever we do, we have to have at least a small chip on our shoulder. That way we’re able to keep our eyes on the prize, understanding that mediocrity is never an option.

Renita’s coming off of a few very successful performances — performances that brought more music lovers along for her journey as an artist with two sides to the story; singing and songwriting.

In hip-hop, there’s a much bigger focus placed on writing your own lyrics, despite the 2015 “beef” between rap stars Drake and Meek Mill, a beef that started over Meek’s disbelief that Drake authors his own lyrics. However, it’s not really considered a big deal if singers elect not to write their own music.

Even the great Beyoncé has ghost writers.  That being said, it’s very rare and absorbing when we come across a Pop artist who is able to both write and perform their own music while also exemplifying a strong stage presence.

That description has Renita written all over it, and her journey has now been added to the Intern Media wall — a wall that includes many other journeys, even some that are still being written.

Checkout my interview with Renita and support her journey as an independent artist in the beloved Big Apple.

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Renita,

It was great hearing your story and being able to share it with my audience.  You have a lot of talent and you’re just at the beginning of your career, but more importantly you have great character.  That’s why there’s no doubt in my mind that you’ll do great musically and that you’ll inspire tons of people along the way.  Stay true to yourself and continue to walk around with that exuberance and confidence that you so greatly possess.  I know we joked about the day when reporters will be knocking on your door begging for an interview, but just remember that every joke has a little bit of truth to it! Welcome to the Intern Media family Renita!

Karl Nelson II, Founder of Intern Media

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The Mic Is Open Was Born With a Purpose

by Karl Nelson II, Intern Media

“What do you do for a living?”

That’s a question that Dabriel Fulton was recently asked.

How did she respond?

She responded like the amazing soul she is.

“I make dreams come true.  I inspire, uplift….I know my purpose in life, and once you know your purpose you can help others unveil theirs!  The key to my success is, I am not greedy.  I love helping us all succeed.”

Coming from a CEO, that’s a very powerful statement and it speaks to why Dabriel is where she is today.  It speaks to why her platform, The Mic Is Open, has been around since 2011 and is better than ever in 2016.

Allow me to breakdown what was said in Dabriel’s quote.

“I make dreams come true.”  Dabriel wants others to experience what she’s experiencing right now; dreams becoming reality.  She’s doing everything in her power to see that happen for other people.

She’s created a platform that’s specifically geared towards emerging artists who are in need of a stage to showcase their talents, which further speaks to Dabriel’s desire to help other people see their “dreams come true.”

“I inspire, uplift….”  Not only does Dabriel inspire those who take part in The Mic Is Open, but she inspires the other creatives like myself who are also emerging in the midst of dreams and aspirations.

To see a young and educated black woman from my hometown of Baltimore creating her own lane and placing a focus on helping others attain success, it doesn’t get anymore inspirational and uplifting than that.

Dabriel says she knows her “purpose in life.”  For a lot of people, it takes them decades to find out what their purpose is in this life. Individuals like Dabriel and myself feel that God has blessed us with knowing our purposes at a young age.

That being said, it’s one thing to know your purpose and it’s another thing to have the courage to walk in that purpose.  Dabriel has that courage.

When she started performing at open mic nights in college, she might not have known that one day she’d be called upon to get on a stage in front of large crowds and host events geared towards providing others with much needed exposure, but she’s accepted that task fearlessly and in turn, she’s inspiring others to walk in their purpose as well.

“The key to my success is, I am not greedy….”  There are individuals and platforms that value money more than they value people and their experiences. That’s what makes Dabriel’s platform so pure though.  Greed isn’t an issue.

Dabriel would much rather someone come and attend her event, have a great time and walk away inspired. She’d rather an artist come and perform at The Mic Is Open and be able to focus on their performance, not the amount of money it costs to perform.

Dabriel ends her answer by saying “I love helping us all succeed.” There are people out there who will step on anybody’s throat to get to the top.  However, I’ve never felt that stepping on people to achieve success is the right answer in life.

Just like famous comedian, Kevin Hart, has alluded to in the past, there’s no reason why we can’t all shine together.  It’s true.  If people spent more time trying to work through their challenges to achieve success and if they came together with others and spent less time hating on one another, we would all be able to experience success together.

Dabriel wants us all to experience success together and I promise you that when you meet her in person, you’ll feel that she genuinely wants to see others happy in their lives and careers just as much as she is today.

Checkout our exclusive interview below and hear directly from Dabriel as she tells me about her recent interview with famous Rapper French Montana for Elle Magazine, her collaboration with Lyft, Saturday’s edition of The Mic Is Open, and more!

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Q.  How excited are you for this Saturday?

A.  I’m super excited.  Just gearing up and getting things ready.  You know I’m a one woman show, so there’s a lot of pressure on me. New people are even hearing about The Mic Is Open.  They’re messaging me on social media, sending me emails, just trying to reach me.

Q.  The last time we were together, you were gearing up for another The Mic Is Open in New York City.  What went well with that one?

A.  With the last event, what went well was I was able to have the venue for that entire day opposed to just being given a certain amount of hours.  The event prior to that one, everyone wasn’t able to get in.  I did make proper movements for the next one though. I booked a larger venue that was more spacious.  The only thing with that is I wanted to have the event at the same place again, but they were like “Oh no.  You have to rent it out for the entire month,” which was crazy.  The venue alone is over $2,000 and then you have a $2,000 deposit.  Things just add up.

Q.  Did the event sell out last time?

A.  Yes it did, which was awesome.  I’m looking forward to that happening again. I’m definitely looking forward to taking the show on the road too.  I’ve really only had the showcase in Baltimore and New York.  My next venture will be LA.

Q.  After having a successful turnout, when you go back to the drawing board to get ready for the next The Mic Is Open, what are some of the things you’re saying to yourself in terms of what you want to accomplish the next time around?

A.  My last event, I spent $8,000.  So, the plan is to spend less and do more, if that’s possible.  Get more sponsors. Get more people.  Get more A&R’s to come out.  Just become bigger and better, but also smarter.  I need to make smarter moves.  So, that’s where I’m at with The Mic Is Open this time around.

Starting off, I didn’t have a budget and that’s very important.  You have to create a budget so you know what you’re working with.  And if you’re financing things for yourself, you definitely have to set some parameters for yourself and for your event.

Q.  Are there any specific qualities you look for when you receive submissions from artists?  If so, what are some of those qualities?

A.  I have requirements.  When people submit, I want to see previous or past performances.  I want to see stage presence.  I want to have a link to your music or your poetry.  I want to give artists multiple opportunities for me to be able to listen.

I more so listen to the lyrics rather than the delivery.

Q.  Last time we spoke, you told me you were going to take a little break to gear up for some other ventures. Did you actually take a break and if you did, what were some of the things you accomplished and learned about yourself during that time?

A.  I know I said I was, but I didn’t haha.  I didn’t get a chance to. Once you do one show, you’re like okay what can I do to make the next one better.  Elle magazine had asked me if I would be able to do an interview with French Montana.

I was like cool.  I figured that would be a way to plug The Mic Is Open. So, we did this interview called Rap Therapy.  It’s going to be in the magazine as well as on their website in the days or weeks to come.

You always have to keep working and grinding until you reach where you want to be. I’m five years into it, but I still haven’t reached even half of what I want to accomplish.

But long story short, nothing happens over night.  I feel as though if I work hard, even harder than I’m working now and just keep pressing forward, I’ll be able to achieve some of the bigger goals I have for myself.

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Q.  Can you talk about your collaboration with Lyft, what it entails and how it came about?

A.  Well, I’m always on my phone and checking emails. An email popped up from someone that appeared to be a manager from Lyft. The person told me they had been following what I’ve been doing and that they thought it was awesome.

They told me they wanted to provide me with their services and partner up.  I emailed them back and the next thing you know, we have a partnership.  Lyft sent us the logos and our own promo codes. I was super excited because having events in New York City, it’s either the train or cab.  Parking is really scarce. Especially, because I’m having this event in Chelsea.  There is no parking.

So, this gives you the opportunity to get to and from your destination and if you want to have some drinks, you can have some and not be worried about it.

Q.  Is this going to be an ongoing partnership?

A.  They actually want to do something even bigger in the future. That’s in the works as well, so I’m looking forward to that.

Q.  Are you thinking about plans for expansion or are you more so focused on just continuously perfecting what’s going on right now and making sure that you’re selling these events out time and time again?

A.  I don’t really focus on selling out.  I just focus on providing a quality experience for the artists and all the guests who attend.  So, when I plan a show, I’m thinking “Okay. How much would I want to pay to get in the show?  What does the show have to offer? Will there be drinks?  What does this ticket include?”

Although you’re always going to have expansion in the back of your head, my focus is on perfecting this one particular event so that I know A, B and C are the moves for each event.  That way, I can follow the same protocol when I get to places like LA and Japan.

We all see the bigger picture, but we have to perfect the smaller picture first to get to the next step.

Q.  When Saturday is concluded and people are out of the venue, what are you hoping that they leave with?

A.  I want people to leave with an experience.  I want you to come to my experience.  I want them to leave saying they “had a great time and was able to interact” with certain people. I want them to say, “Dabriel was really down to earth.”

Their impression of me really matters to me.  A lot of people say they don’t care what others think, but I care because I want you to have a lasting impression.  I want you to feel good about the environment.  I want you to feel good about the host, which is me. I want you to feel good about the artist.

The Mic Is Open is a platform for emerging artists to showcase their talent.  It’s a safe place.  When you’re here, you feel loved, you feel excited, you feel welcomed. It’s not a competition.  People who are emailing me are like “So, how much do I have to pay to perform?”

It’s not that kind of show.  You don’t have to pay to perform.  I never want someone to have to pay to showcase their talent.  That’s just not what we do over here.

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Dabz,

It was great interviewing you for a second time now.  I wish you the best tomorrow with another edition of The Mic Is Open.  I know you’ll be great. Thanks for having the courage to be an inspiration to the world and for being a bridge builder for the emerging artists out there today. God is truly working in your life and it’s good to see you embrace the purpose He’s given you.  If you only knew how your story impacts my life….You will always be apart of the Intern Media family.

Karl Nelson II, Founder of Intern Media

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Chanel Murphy: The “F” in “food” should stand for “fabulous”

by Karl Nelson II, Intern Media

Chanel Murphy, a self-taught chef and the Founder of My Fabulous Food, is bringing a new flare, some glitz and glamour, so to speak, to the art of cooking. Chanel’s elegant approach to her “fabulous food” brand, from her fashion to the perfection she strives for with each new recipe, is making quite the impression on foodies throughout the world.

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We all know that social media is at an all-time high right now, but even with that being the case, it can still be difficult to find a newsworthy story located thousands of miles away.

Well, fortunately for me, I didn’t have to purchase a plane ticket or take that eight or nine hour drive to North Carolina to land this story. Instead, I put my youthfulness to the test and kept my eyes on the plethora of talent surfacing the hundreds of social networks available to us.  It was then that I came across Chanel’s profile, which I found to be very inspirational and extensive, proving to me in less than 60 seconds of just how seasoned of a chef she’s become since 2015 when she first started her business.

The girl is simply something special when it comes to not only her ability to make a good dish, but also in how she presents her cooking to the public.

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Chanel’s constantly putting her cooking skills to the test, whether that be adding a new recipe to her arsenal or catering an event for many food lovers to come out and enjoy her work.  Her consistency is why her following continues to grow so rapidly today.

And just to think that Chanel has only been in this industry since her college years.  That speaks to her natural gift in this area and more importantly to her dedication to her craft, which you all should know by now is what inspires me the most as a journalist.

Chanel’s talent as a chef and the authenticity of the food she makes has the power to not only fill up a hungry tummy, but to touch people’s lives in a new way.

It was great to hear from Chanel in our interview, as she shared her recent collaboration with a well-known personal trainer in Charlotte, NC, Taylor Calamese. It was that collaboration which enabled Chanel to teach youth about how to make delicious and healthy meals.  This joint effort combined Chanel’s love for cooking and Taylor’s expertise in health and fitness, educating some of North Carolinas brightest children.

Those are the kinds of experiences more young people need, especially in a world where the wrong foods are always right in front of our faces.  This is what I mean when I say “Chanel has an opportunity to impact lives with her talent.”

How many times have you been at an event, eating and mingling with familiar faces and some new ones?

For a lot of us, that’s every month, if not more frequently.  Well, just think about attending an event, doing the usual, but then being so blown away by the quality of the food that you just can’t leave the venue without speaking to the chef.

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That’s the kind of affect Chanel’s product is having on her consumers today.  And the fact that she’s an all around sweet person only makes her that much more dangerous in the food district.

Before I even started this platform, I told myself that the aim was to create something that’s outside of the box and to take something as simplistic as journalism and make it attractive to the naked eye again.

That’s exactly what Chanel is doing as a chef.  She’s adding a swagger and creating an atmosphere around her cooking that I’ve just simply never seen before, and I couldn’t be more proud of what she’s accomplishing.

The fact that Chanel’s a self-taught chef speaks to her natural talent, but features by Intern Media, Food Beast and her recent appearance on Fox 46 in Charlotte speaks to the hard work she’s putting into her craft.

In an exclusive interview, Chanel gave me some great insight into how she got started and what makes her food experience special and unique.

Be sure to checkout the in-depth interview following my write up, and like I always tell you guys, choose to be inspired.

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Chanel (on the right) during her appearance on Fox 46.

Q.  You’re a self-taught chef.  It’s difficult for some to cook a quality meal with the help of a recipe book, show or YouTube tutorial, let alone teach themselves.  That being said, I find it extremely impressive that you had the know-how to teach yourself to cook and to cook at this level, for that matter. How have you been able to accomplish this?

A.  Well, I’ve always loved to eat, but I started cooking and experimenting in college.  I definitely burned a few meals along the way, and it was a process that took me years to perfect.

I have a collection of recipe books, and I have a natural love for learning.  Continuous learning and determination is key.  I find inspiration from many sources, and my natural creative abilities help with my presentation skills.

Q.  At what point did your services begin to become a high demand among other food lovers?

A.  When I started sharing meals that I cooked on Facebook and Instagram, I started getting messages from a lot of different people.  Some people wanted to order food, and others wanted me to teach them how to cook.

Q.  What’s your vision for the mobile catering company that you’re planning on launching in the near future?

A.  In the future, I plan on opening a food truck that serves gourmet meals to-go and that also provides event catering services.  I want to serve unique meals that no one would expect came off of a food truck.

I also plan on providing personal chef services for individuals who are too busy to cook for themselves.

Q.  You recently partnered up with a local personal trainer in Charlotte to host a healthy cooking class.  How did that come about?

A.  Taylor Calamese, of TC Lifestyle Fitness, reached out to me to host a healthy cooking class back in March.  We’re both passionate about what we do, and I believe we recognized that in each other.  The class taught students how to cook delicious wholesome meals in a healthy way.

Q.  You recently appeared on Fox 46 in Charlotte.  What dish did you cook on the show and what was that experience like for you?

A.  My cooking segment on Fox was amazing!  I made quiche, which is one of my favorite dishes.  It’s super easy to make, and I’m glad I had the opportunity to share my recipe with others.

Q.  Given the fact that you enjoy dining just as much as you enjoy cooking, where is your favorite place to dine in?  What’s your signature dish when you eat there?

A.  Yes!  I love eating out too.  At one point, I wanted to write restaurant reviews. AZN Asian Cuisine is one of the best restaurants in Charlotte.  A lot of people don’t know about it, but their Korean short ribs are absolutely amazing.

Q.  What’s one of your personal favorite dishes that you make?  Take us through the process of making it.

A.  I love to cook crab legs.  I love them simply steamed, topped with Cajun seasoning and served with drawn butter.

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Chanel,

Thank you for taking this interview from many miles away and allowing me to share your talent and your story with my audience. You’ve inspired me with your craft and I hope I’ve done the same for you.  I’m sure this won’t be the last time we work together, but until then keep doing great things and testing the boundaries as a self-taught chef with a lot of pizazz.  Welcome to the Intern Media family.

Karl Nelson II, Founder of Intern Media

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Dear Chicago…

by Karl Nelson II, Intern Media 

Dear Chicago,

I find myself typing “Chicago shooting” into my Google search engine with the intention of continuing my research on the deadly shootings that took place in your city over the course of memorial weekend.

However, what I see next nearly causes my stomach to drop.  Two new headlines pop up on my screen; there’s been a deadly shooting on Father’s Day weekend and another right outside of a Chicago church just a day or so later.

My stomach dropping becomes the least of my worries at that point.  Instead, I feel myself beginning to get emotional as I try my best to hold back the tears as I sit on a side street in the middle of Manhattan.

Apart of me wanted to let my emotions fly while another part of me simply wanted to know why and how this continues to happen, almost as if it’s become the norm in a city with so much great history and promise for the future.

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Photo by the Chicago Tribune 

I begin thinking about a mirage of things.  What would I do if I were a resident of Chicago today?  What if I took a stand against gun violence right here in New York City?  What would happen?  Would I too be at risk?

Walking the streets of New York, obviously miles away from the “Windy City,” it might be irritating to hear others responding to the traumatic events that are taking place right outside of your windows.

But I promise you that my thoughts are beyond genuine, as I think about just over a year ago when I was living in my hometown of Baltimore, a city that found itself in the middle of tragedy, controversy, protests, the loss of life, and so many other things as a result of what many Baltimore residents viewed as injustice in their beloved city.

That being said, believe me when I say that I wholeheartedly sympathize with the residents of Chicago and desperately want to see nothing more than guns taken off of your streets immediately.

And I know that there are world leaders today who have received tons of backlash for voicing the same desires, but I’m one that doesn’t believe in the notion that if a tragic event rarely takes place, then that means it’s not cause to panic.

No.  I truly believe that a tragedy like the Memorial Day weekend shootings, 56 shootings on Father’s Day weekend as well as 40 shots being fired outside of a church just days ago is cause to do more than simply pause for a moment of silence like President Barack Obama recently echoed.  Instead, I believe that it’s this type of gun violence that calls for immediate action and long term solution, no matter who supports that notion or not.

To the residents of Chicago, God bless you.  My prayers will remain with you and the victims of these horrible and senseless shootings.

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Photo by the Chicago Tribune

 

Dear Ali…

by Karl Nelson II, Intern Media

Dear Muhammad Ali,

The beautiful thing about the life that God gives us is that we’re all born with gifts, talents and a since of uniqueness.  What we do with that is entirely up to us, but I want to personally thank you, Mr. Ali, for showing me that I can do more than just exist on this earth.  I know that I can change the world because of strong public figures like yourself.

You paved the way for so many members of the black community and beyond with your dedication to the sport of boxing and more importantly with your courage as an activist, as you took advantage of any and every opportunity to express your racial pride as a black man, resisting white domination during a time when racism was blatantly prevalent in our society.

Your greatness both inside and outside of the boxing ring will never be forgotten.

You did more during your time on this earth than simply exist.  You spoke out, stood for what you believed in and mastered your craft, inspiring the world.

And even as your illness grew over the years,  you didn’t lose that smile.  You didn’t abandon that charisma.  You continued to be that same Muhammad Ali that my uncles, my father and my grandfather loved many years ago and still love to this day.

You’re gone too soon, but I appreciate the legacy you leave behind.  My prayers are with your family.  God bless you champ.

– Karl

In the video that follows, fans honor the life and legacy of Muhammad “The Greatest” Ali on the day of his funeral.