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Former NBA Star Dee Brown Joins Daughter Lexie at Final Four

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FILE - In this March 23, 2015, file photo, Maryland guard Lexie Brown reacts at the end of an NCAA college basketball game against Princeton in the second round of the NCAA tournament in College Park, Md. As the accolades and awards continue to mount for Maryland guard Lexie Brown, her father _ former NBA star Dee Brown _ happily concedes that the student has already outdone the teacher at the college level. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

In this March 23, 2015, file photo, Maryland guard Lexie Brown reacts at the end of an NCAA college basketball game against Princeton in the second round of the NCAA tournament in College Park, Md. As the accolades and awards continue to mount for Maryland guard Lexie Brown, her father, former NBA star Dee Brown, happily concedes that the student has already outdone the teacher at the college level. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

DAVID GINSBURG, AP Sports Writer

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — Former NBA star Dee Brown taught his daughter all about the game of basketball Unfortunately, he doesn’t often get to see Maryland sharpshooter Lexie Brown play in person

He will this weekend.

The Sacramento assistant coach and former slam dunk champion is taking a break from his job and putting on his “dad hat” to see his daughter play in the women’s Final Four.

Lexie Brown could not be more excited.

“It’s going to be great. He couldn’t have come at a better time,” Brown said Thursday, shortly before the Terrapins headed to Tampa, Florida, for a showdown with Connecticut in the national semifinals on Sunday night.

“My mom was there for the first-round games, and when I look up at her, a calm comes over me,” Lexie said. “When I see my dad in the stands, it’s calm times 100. It’s like, ‘I got this. My dad’s here.’ I can’t wait.”

Her father is pretty pumped, too, even though he has watched Lexie play plenty of times this season on television and video. After every game, he calls with advice.

“I’m a dad first. I just tell her: ‘I’m proud of you, way to play hard.’ And then I’m a coach second,” said the 46-year-old Brown, who will miss the Kings’ game Sunday night against the Utah Jazz. “I’ll say, ‘Listen, you could have done this, you have shot this, you missed this pass here, you could have played defense better on this possession.’ But that’s probably very quick, and my dad hat comes out first to make sure she knows I’m proud of her and I’m always watching and supporting her.”

Even from afar.

“My daughter understands my job,” Brown said. “She knows I can talk to her every day, but this makes it more special. I’m nervous, probably more than she is just because it’s my first game all year.”

Lexie Brown wears No. 4, the same number her father wore in college at Jacksonville. This season she was named to the All-Big Ten first team, voted Most Outstanding Player at the Big Ten Tournament and was one of three Terrapins to average in double figures in scoring.

The 5-foot-9 sophomore guard is a big reason why Maryland has been in the Final Four in each of the past two years.

“She’s accomplished a lot more in her two years in college than I achieved in my whole college career,” Dee Brown boasts.

Lexie Brown attributes much of her skill to time spent with her father while growing up.

“We had a half-court in our backyard, so we were always out there,” Lexie recalled. “Then Dad opened up his own training facility in Orlando. That’s where we started our journey together, playing basketball in the gym for hours. Those are the moments I remember most vividly when I was younger, and I love them.”

When it came time to pick a college, Maryland didn’t really choose Brown. She chose Maryland.

“It was a real easy recruiting process because she wanted to come to Maryland and we wanted her,” coach Brenda Frese said. “I had a lot of great conversations with Dee, talking about what their expectations were and what ours were. It was a perfect fit.”

When Lexie showed up for her first practice last year, it was clear there was something different about her — in a good way.

“She was raised by her father, who grew up in the game,” Frese said. “She had poise beyond her years in every single element. That’s what makes her so special.”

Dee Brown played 12 years in the NBA with Boston, Toronto and Orlando. His most notable moment probably was at 1991 NBA Slam Dunk contest, which he won with a “no-look” jam.

Impressive stuff, except perhaps to Lexie’s friends.

“Most people my age have no idea who my dad is, which is completely OK with me,” she said. “But a lot of older people go, ‘Your dad did the dunk.'”

Lexie loves being Dee Brown’s daughter. But she’s also making a name for herself at Maryland.

“I’m proud of who my Dad is and what he’s accomplished,” Lexie said. “I love when I go out with him and people are like, ‘Dee Brown! Can I have your autograph? Can we take a picture?’ Every little girl loves seeing her dad be like a superstar. But now sometimes, it’s, ‘Dee, can you take a picture of me and Lexie?’

“To see the transition of being Dee Brown’s daughter to Lexie Brown the basketball player has been kind of cool.”

Dee Brown agrees.

“I like to let her get her own due not because she’s Dee Brown’s daughter. I’m Alexis Brown’s father,” Dee said. “It makes you feel good that she’s earned that, not just because of me, but because of the way she’s played and carried herself on the court.”

Dee Brown’s interest in Maryland basketball has rubbed off on the Kings, who will also have a rooting interest on Sunday night.

“I get the guys to watch and make sure they’re excited about the games,” Dee said. “I’m a proud dad.”

___

AP Sports Writer Kristie Rieken in Houston contributed to this report.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Activism

Oakland A’s Star Tony Kemp Tells Us Why He’s Planting Trees, Messaging with Fans

For the 2021 baseball season, Kemp teamed up with a national organization and pledged to plant 100 trees in urban communities for every stolen base and extra-base hit he recorded.

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Oakland Athletics outfielder Tony Kemp in an undated photo. Kemp partnered with Breaking T to produce his +1 Effect merchandise. A portion of the sale proceeds go to the Players Alliance, a national organization committed to creating an inclusive culture within baseball. Photo courtesy of Tony Kemp.
Oakland Athletics outfielder Tony Kemp in an undated photo. Kemp partnered with Breaking T to produce his +1 Effect merchandise. A portion of the sale proceeds go to the Players Alliance, a national organization committed to creating an inclusive culture within baseball. Photo courtesy of Tony Kemp.

By Nick Marnell, Bay City News Foundation

Oakland A’s infielder Tony Kemp picked a great year to pledge a charitable contribution based upon his on-field performance.

For the 2021 baseball season, Kemp teamed up with a national organization and pledged to plant 100 trees in urban communities for every stolen base and extra-base hit he recorded.

Fortunately for the environment, Kemp, 30, produced the best season of his six-year major league career, compiling 27 extra-base hits and eight stolen bases to go along with a strong .382 on-base percentage. He was also one of only two hitters in the American League (with at least two plate appearances per every regular season game) to walk more often than he struck out.

“I’m glad I got the chance to play and show what I can do,” Kemp said.

The 3,500 trees Kemp donated were just the catalyst as PG&E, one of the team’s corporate sponsors, doubled down on the pledge “to further its support of environment and sustainability awareness,” company representative Lynsey Paulo said. “With PG&E’s donation, there will be 7,000 trees planted as part of this program.”

On Dec. 10, volunteers from the A’s, PG&E, the City of Oakland and various charitable organizations met at Sobrante Park in Oakland and planted 15 trees. Kemp said he will plant trees this spring in his hometown near Nashville.

One of Kemp’s partners in the tree planting venture is Players for the Planet, a national organization founded by former major leaguer Chris Dickerson. Players for the Planet asserts a goal of uniting professional athletes to create positive change for the environment. “Our programs are designed by the players so they can contribute wherever they see a need or opportunity,” Dickerson said.

“I always wanted to do a reforestation project,” Kemp said. Possibly as a giveback for the amount of lumber used in his profession? Kemp chuckled, but said his goal was much greater than replacing a handful of broken bats. “I’ve always cared about the planet. I’ve been an advocate for a recycling project for a long time. This one was a no-brainer.”

Dickerson agreed that Kemp is a committed activist. “Tony has been a tremendous advocate for giving back to the community,” he said.

Addressing systemic racism

Even though he is not a fan of confrontation, in summer 2020 Kemp became one of the most active ballplayers speaking out against racial injustice. Haunted by the murder of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, and the unfolding civil unrest, Kemp logged onto Twitter on June 5, 2020, and posted to his followers, then numbering more than 40,000: “Let’s be honest. It’s been a tough week. If any of you want to talk or want to be more informed don’t hesitate to ask me.”

That tweet prompted a series of one-on-one direct message conversations with friends, teammates and fans about systemic racism and his own life experiences as a Black man. Kemp then formalized these conversations into a campaign called the +1 Effect.

Explaining the name of his campaign, Kemp said he wanted his perspective to achieve a domino effect, of one positive conversation leading to another, and then another, through honest and respectful dialogue.

“I ask questions. Simple questions, and there is no yelling,” said Kemp, in keeping with his distaste of confrontation. “Those who yell the loudest, what are they trying to accomplish?”

Kemp shared portions of a +1 Effect conversation he had with a suburban white woman in Texas who wanted to do a better job of combating racism but feared that she had no platform.

“Of course, you have a platform and voice,” Kemp told her. “You can always be an influence and inspiration to those around you.” He went on to explain that undoing systemic racism “starts with calling out people for their offhand comments that they may not even realize are racially biased.

“Make it known that you will not tolerate racism or prejudice in any way,” he advised her, and recommended media for her to check out, including “The 13th,” Ava DuVernay’s documentary about racism in the criminal justice system; Nikole Hannah-Jones’ “1619” podcast on how slavery shapes American culture to this day; and Ibram X. Kendi’s history-driven guide “How to Be Anti-Racist.”

Supporting Black kids

Kemp also gives back through the Players Alliance, an organization of major league ballplayers who work to create an inclusive culture within baseball in order to promote racial equality and provide greater opportunities for the Black community. According to Society for American Baseball Research, since Jackie Robinson broke the color line starting with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947, the percentage of Black players in the MLB peaked at 18.7% in 1981 and declined to less than 10% by the mid-2000s. In 2016, only 6.7% of major leaguers were Black.

“We’re trying to get Black players to mentor kids who can’t afford equipment to play baseball,” Kemp said. “Black kids look up to us, and we’re trying to help these kids understand that they can succeed in Major League Baseball.”

Kemp, though, is realistic about the slim chances for kids to make it to the big leagues, as Kemp himself fought through early life and career struggles. His parents divorced when he was 12. He was repeatedly optioned to the minor leagues while with the Houston Astros.

Kemp drew on his inner strength and closeness to his family — especially his older brother Corey — to help get him through the rough patches.

Corey told his brother that it was never going to be easy for him to succeed in athletics because Kemp was the little guy.

“They’re always going to be looking at the big guy,” Corey Kemp said. “You’ve got to keep a chip on your shoulder, get back out there and continue to perform.”

The advice worked. “I realized there will always be guys physically stronger than me,” said Kemp, who is 5-feet-6-inches tall and 160 pounds. “But they will never be stronger mentally.”

Understanding that the baseball hopefuls he mentors will need a fallback position should their baseball dreams flame out, Kemp imparted reality to the young athletes when he demonstrated the importance of a strong educational foundation at an Alliance event in Oakland.

“I got out a book and a baseball. I asked the kids to stand on each one and see which one provided more stability,” he said. “They got the message. I told them that getting a degree is always the end goal.”

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Bay Area

Oakland Planning Commission Approves A’s Stadium Project Environmental Study

Of the 53 public speakers at the meeting, 32 opposed approving the EIR, raising significant concerns about the impact of the project. Speakers included representatives of community organizations, spokespeople for major Port of Oakland businesses and the ILWU, the union representing Port longshore workers.

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Melody Davis speaks at a demonstration before the Planning Commission meeting at Oakland City Hall on Jan. 19, 2022, at a rally opposing Oakland A’s owner John Fisher’s real estate and stadium development of Howard Terminal. Photo courtesy of Gene Hazzard.
Melody Davis speaks at a demonstration before the Planning Commission meeting at Oakland City Hall on Jan. 19, 2022, at a rally opposing Oakland A’s owner John Fisher’s real estate and stadium development of Howard Terminal. Photo courtesy of Gene Hazzard.

By Ken Epstein

Billionaire developer John Fisher’s goal of building a $1 billion baseball stadium as part of a $12 billion real estate project on public land at the Port of Oakland took a significant step forward this week as the Oakland Planning Commission unanimously approved city staff’s final Environmental Impact Report, despite widespread community concerns.

While a victory for Fisher and Mayor Libby Schaaf, who is an outspoken proponent of the development, the Planning Commission vote on Wednesday is only a recommendation. The report will now go to the City Council, with a review expected to begin in February before a vote on approval.

City staff are still in the process of negotiating with the A’s corporation over the financial impacts and other issues that are part of a Development Agreement which ultimately must go to the City Council for approval.

While there were 227 attendees at the Zoom commission meeting, city staff had posted the wrong link to the meeting on the city’s Planning Commission webpage making it likely that many people were unable to watch or participate in the meeting.

Of the 53 public speakers at the meeting, 32 opposed approving the EIR, raising significant concerns about the impact of the project. Speakers included representatives of community organizations, spokespeople for major Port of Oakland businesses and the ILWU, the union representing Port longshore workers.

In their unanimous vote in favor of the 3,500-page document, commissioners brushed aside residents’ concerns about the flaws and omissions in the report, as did Schaaf, who seemed exuberant in a press statement announcing the commission’s decision.

“Tonight’s Planning Commission recommendation to send the final Environmental Impact Report on to the City Council for certification is a huge win for our entire region and puts Oakland one step closer to building a landmark waterfront ballpark district with the highest environmental standards,” Schaff said.

One speaker who raised concerns was Nathan Landau, transportation planner for AC Transit.

“Unfortunately, there are still some very serious unanswered questions on how this (project) will affect the AC Transit system,” he said. “We don’t see a document that addresses these things. (The
City) needs to dig deeper and develop an adequate transportation system” to support the proposed stadium.

Another speaker was Susan Ransom of SSA International, which handles 65% of the goods that go through the Port. She said the final EIR report was “speculative” presenting a “misrepresentation of the facts about water safety and maritime impacts,” which city staff has failed to discuss with the Coast Guard.

Before the project is finally approved, the Council must consider the General Plan Amendment, Rezoning, the Development Agreement and the preliminary development plan.

Approvals are also necessary from the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) and the State Lands Commission.

Gregory Hodge, candidate for Oakland mayor said, “Oakland’s physical and social infrastructure has deteriorated to the point of crisis. While we love our teams, we love our neighbors more. Paying their fair share is a tangible way for team owners to show that they love Oakland’s people more than making a profit.”

“What’s good for the goose should be good for the gander, the wise elders used to say. Let’s expedite an authentic community-driven process to bring fresh development ideas to the Coliseum neighborhood as we have seen in the latest round of supporting the A’s in their Howard Terminal effort. Our City’s administration owes that same level of expedience, efficiency and respect to AASEG (African American Sports and Entertainment Group).”

Loren Taylor, Oakland city councilman and candidate for mayor said, “Looking forward to having answers to questions addressed and answered before coming to council for a vote”

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Activism

Oakland Voters Reject Spending Taxpayer Money for A’s Howard Terminal Project

“As part of any major corporate development or sports stadium plan, local governments in California make the creation of a Community Benefits Fund part of the deal. This is money paid by the developers to fund important projects that local citizens identify, including addressing homelessness, affordable housing, crime prevention, and education programs. “How do you think the proposed $450 million Community Benefits Fund connected to the Howard Terminal Stadium project should be paid for?

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Oakland A’s logo
Oakland A’s logo

Two-thirds of voters would not support candidates who voted to spend taxpayer money on project

By Ken Epstein

A new poll of Oakland voters, conducted by a professional polling company, indicates that Oakland voters reject spending taxpayer money to build a new A’s stadium, retail and condominium project at Howard Terminal at the Port of Oakland.

Further, nearly two-thirds of voters say they would not support candidates for mayor or City Council who voted to spend taxpayer money for the Howard Terminal development.

The first question — without being presented any additional information — was: “From what you’ve heard or read, do you support or oppose the Oakland City Council spending taxpayer money to help build a new A’s baseball stadium next to the port at Howard Terminal.”

The results were 46% opposed, 37% in favor and 17% did not know.

Opposition was significantly higher among residents of Council districts 5 and 7, opposed by 56% to 36% in District 5 and 59% to 37% in District 7.

A’s fans — 53% of the electorate — supported using tax money 44% to 42%. Those who are not A’s fans were opposed to spending taxpayer money by 53% to 26%.

The results of the second question about who should pay community benefits was even more strongly in opposition to taxpayers footing the bill for the A’s corporation.

Here is the question:

“As part of any major corporate development or sports stadium plan, local governments in California make the creation of a Community Benefits Fund part of the deal. This is money paid by the developers to fund important projects that local citizens identify, including addressing homelessness, affordable housing, crime prevention, and education programs.

“How do you think the proposed $450 million Community Benefits Fund connected to the Howard Terminal Stadium project should be paid for?

“a) By the A’s because the project is being built using taxpayer money, and the team should pay their fair share of community benefits like all other developers do. OR

“b) By Oakland City taxpayers without any money from the A’s, because the waterfront development will create a new entertainment, work and residential destination while keeping the last professional team in Oakland.”

An overwhelming 81% to 15% said that the A’s should use their own money and not rely on taxpayer money to pay for the $450 million in proposed community benefits.

The next question asked was, “Do you agree or disagree with this statement: The City of Oakland should NOT spend over $800 million in taxpayer money to keep the A’s in Oakland when the city has other major needs like homelessness, affordable housing, and crime?”

The results: 69% agreed that the city should not spend over $800 million to keep the A’s in Oakland. Support for taxpayer spending drops from 37% to 27% when the “over $800 million” figure is presented.

In a separate poll question, 70% of Oakland voters said homelessness was one of their top two priority issues, followed by 60% who picked crime and 40% affordable housing. Only 5% said “losing pro sports teams” was a top problem.

Finally, voters were asked how this issue would impact their vote for mayor or City Council in this year’s elections.

The question: “After hearing this information, which of the following two candidates would you vote for in the next election for City Council or mayor in Oakland if their positions on other issues were the same?

“a) Candidate A who voted FOR spending over $800 million in taxpayer money for infrastructure improvements to make the Howard Terminal baseball stadium a reality. OR

“b) Candidate B who voted AGAINST spending any taxpayer money to support an A’s Stadium at Howard Terminal, even if the A’s may move out of Oakland. “

The results: Two-thirds (65%) said they support Candidate B, who voted against taxpayer money for the Howard Terminal Stadium, “even if the A’s may move out of Oakland.”

Support for Candidate A, who backed the spending of taxpayer money for the stadium stood at only 29%.

The poll, conducted by FrederickPolls, was released by the East Oakland Stadium Alliance. The sample size was 509 interviews of Oakland registered voters. The interviews were conducted Dec. 8-16, 2021. The margin of error was 4.4%.

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