Los Angeles Lakers center Tarik Black is the kind of individual who stands out in a crowd. At 6’9″ and 250 pounds, Black is an imposing figure, but it only takes a few moments of speaking to him to realize that it isn’t just his athletic ability that sets him apart.
Black has a deep-rooted desire to give back to the community that he grew up in and has started a youth basketball camp in Memphis, Tennessee. He’s also starting The Tarik Black Foundation, which will work with inner-city kids. Black explained the goal for his foundation to Mark Giannotto of The Commercial Appeal:
“The mission is to provide life skills to inner city youth so they can come back and better their own communities,” said Black, noting the lessons he hopes to instill could be as simple as proper etiquette and writing a resume or as complex as figuring out the tax code.
“In the bigger picture, we want to run programs where we can take kids out of Memphis so they can see a different city. It opened my eyes that in Memphis I didn’t get to quite learn these things because I wasn’t around these people. We have people here that are very affluent but how often do we see them in the city? How often do they show their faces? How often do they teach us things and give back and reach out? I feel obligated to reach out and to give back and to take everything I’ve learned to give back and teach that.”
While Black focuses on his work in Memphis, the Lakers have a decision to make. Black’s contract includes a team option for next season that would pay him just over $6.6 million.
On the court, Black average 5.7 points and 5.1 rebounds in just 16.3 minutes of playing time last season for the Lakers, making him a reliable reserve big man. Add the positive influence that he can have on the team’s young core, and one would have to imagine that Los Angeles will lean towards hanging on to the Black.