Yes, I just copy and pasted the wikipedia article, but it certainly is a story worth telling. Long before Jay-Z started rappin’ about “Rags to Riches”, there was a man named Pee Wee Kirkland. Kirkland. Kirkland a street ball legend in New York City in the late 60’s, was draft by the Chicago Bulls in 1969. Kirkland’s success turned to folklore when he turned down the offer to pursue a career in the NBA in exchange to continue slangin’ crackrock on the streets of Brooklyn because it was simply more lucrative than playing in the NBA at the time.
Bellow is the wikipedia article for the man who is now a motivational speaker and still lives in Brooklyn in the Linden Boulevard.
He played varsity basketball at Charles Evans Hughes High School and was made an All-City guard. He was awarded a scholarship and attended Kittrell College and was on the basketball team averaging 41 PPG. He then attended Norfolk State University and played on the basketball team, teaming up with later NBA star Bob Dandridge. His teams had phenomenal years. The Spartans won the CIAA title in 1968 with a 25-2 record; they lost in the second round of the NCAA Division II Men’s Tournament. The next year their record was 21-4 and they lost in the first round of the D-II tournament. In 1969 he was drafted by the Chicago Bulls with the fourth pick in the thirteenth round. It is speculated that he turned the offer down, because he was making more money being a drugdealer. At the time, the opportunities offered to him outside of the NBA were far more lucrative, in terms of financial gain and public recognition. Kirkland then got caught up in street life activities and eventually landed in prison, first in 1971 in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania.
Life in prison
In prison he scored 465 points in 8 games. He also played in prison from 1981 to 1988 in La Tuna, Texas. In the Anthracite Basketball League of central Pennsylvania he scored 100 and 135 points in one game.
Now a reformed man, Kirkland travels the country speaking to youth about decision-making and pathways to success, in addition to self-esteem and other various issues plaguing the inner-cities of America.
He presents his messages in the “School of Skillz” — a basketball and life skills campaign that is co-sponsored by Nike. The camps began in 90’s on Saturdays in Harlem and has since become a nationwide endeavor. He has won championships as a high school coach at The Dwight School, a prestigious private school on the Upper West Side, in New York City. One of his early breakthroughs involved reaching out to youth such as Hanif “Camel” Warren. As an educator and social worker, Kirkland utilizes the respect he receives from young people because of his gangster past to reach at-risk youth and break down their misconceptions about “keepin’ it real” on the streets.
He was a faculty member of Long Island University teaching classes about the Philosophy of Basketball Coaching. In 2000, he earned a master’s degree in human services from Lincoln University. He has started his own recording label, So Gangsta Music (SOG).
Streetball.com caught up with Pee Wee Kirkland at Hoops in the Sun at Orchard Beach recently.
Kirkland was mentioned in a song by the rap group Clipse in the song “Grindin” from their 2002 release entitled “Lord Willin’.” The line “Legend in two games like I’m Pee Wee Kirkland” refers to his skill as both a drug dealer and basketball player. He is also featured in the music video for the song “New York Minute” by rapper French Montana. Kirkland is shown throughout the video alongside rappers French Montana and Jadakiss. He is also mentioned in a song by the artist Fat Joe”[Lean back] The line referenced mentions “Not even Pee-Wee Kirkland could imagine dis, My niggaz didn’t even have to play to win the championship.