When Kendrick Lamar dropped Good Kid, m.A.A.d City on October 22, 2012, one song immediately jumped out at basketball fans, bloggers, and NBA players: the bonus track, "Black Boy Fly," and its verse dedicated to Lamar's fellow Compton native Arron Afflalo.
In typically detailed and autobiographical Kendrick Lamar fashion, "Black Boy Fly" takes us back to his days at Centennial High School, where he observed classmate Afflalo succeeding on the basketball court and in the classroom, poised to be the one to make it out of Compton.
Fast-forward eight years later.
Lamar is basking in the glow of that brilliantly bold debut album and being spotted courtside at Staples Center, while Afflalo is playing for an Orlando Magic team that lost Dwight Howard to the Lakers. At the halfway mark of the NBA season Afflalo has shown his worth, emerging as Orlando's leading scorer. In two separate trips home to California this season, Afflalo led the Magic to victories over both the Lakers and Clippers. Making Lamar's lyrics in "Black Boy Fly" come to life like he was back at Centennial High, he scored 30 both times his team schooled the squad from Los Angeles.
I recently caught up with Afflalo to discuss his shout out in Lamar’s song, but the conversation quickly turned into something deeper as topics like success and motivation came up. After listening to Afflalo detail how he's trying to make the most out of each day, it's easy to see why Lamar admired his former classmate.