Kendrick Lamar used to be jealous of Arron Afflalo. This is a fact. Lamar literally says in his 2012 track, Black Boy Fly, "I used to be jealous of Arron Afflalo."
Both attended Centennial High School in Compton, California, although Afflalo is 20 months older. Afflalo, 30, earned a scholarship to UCLA and an eventual role in the NBA. Lamar, 28, became a recording artist.
It is common to believe Lamar's lyrics referred to jealously of basketball success, but he may have been inspired by Afflalo's business skills.
In a recent piece for The Players' Tribune, Afflalo, who signed with the Knicks this offseason, recounts his teenage business endeavors selling donuts and burning CDs.
"This one guy from my school named Kendrick Duckworth was really into hip-hop. He asked me to burn him Jay Z’s 'Reasonable Doubt.' That’s an all-time classic from ’96. You couldn’t just go to the store and buy all these albums, you know? It would cost too much money. But you could come to me and get it for $5.
Kendrick eventually started making his own music. He got pretty good at it, too. You’ve probably heard of him. He goes by the name Kendrick Lamar.
I won't sugarcoat it. Kendrick and I grew up in a tough area. The park where I'd go to play basketball as a kid was a big Blood hangout. And obviously, my CD empire wouldn’t exactly hold up 100 percent to copyright laws, but compared to the alternatives of what I could’ve been doing for money, I think it was pretty solid. There was a lot of trouble in Compton, but my mentality was straightforward: Just focus on yourself and what you can control, and you’ll go wherever you want to go. D.I.Y. man. You gotta do it yourself.
If we revisit Black Boy Fly, here are Lamar's lyrics:
I used to be jealous of Aaron Afflalo
I used to be jealous of Aaron Afflalo
He was the one to follow
He was the only leader foreseeing brighter tomorrows
He would live in the gym
We was living in sorrow
Total envy of him
He made a dream become a reality
Actually making it possible to swim
His way out of Compton with further more to accomplish
Graduate with honors, a sponsor of basketball scholars
It's 2004 and I'm watching him score 30
Remember vividly how them victory points had hurt me
Cause every basket was a reaction or a reminder
That we was just moving backwards
The bungalow where you find us
The art of us ditching classes heading nowhere fast
Stick my head inside the study hall, he focused on math
Determination ambition, plus dedication and wisdom
Qualities he was given was the shit we didn't have
Dug inside of his book bag and Coach Palmer asked for his finals
He had his back like a spinal meanwhile
We singing the same old song spinning the vinyl
11 graders gone wrong
He focused on the NBA we focused on some Patron
Now watch that black boy fly
No one is saying Arron Afflalo propelled Kendrick Lamar's rap career, but it is hard to deny Afflalo's effect. He inspired Lamar with success and passed along some important study material.
Back in 2012, Afflalo acknowledged Lamar's lyrics saying:
"I think it’s a form of respect. I think it’s more credit to him than me because I can only imagine the feeling that I had -- that hunger to be successful and you have it in front of your face. I remember my high school days, it was a good time for me. I was almost like the golden child in the city of Compton, or at least at Centennial at that time, considering where I was as a basketball player, and all the positivity I had around me, in terms of school and people appreciating me and showing me love for what I did on the court and in the community at that time in my life. So for him to kind of be in the background and who he is today, it showed you the perseverance that he had for so many years."
Both are rather successful today. Lamar has a net worth of roughly $18 million and Afflalo just signed a two-year, $16 million contract with the Knicks.