Carter becomes charitable spokesman

Updated: November 19, 2003, 9:08 PM ET
Associated Press

SAN ANTONIO -- San Antonio Spurs guard Anthony Carter doesn't like to think about where he might be if the I Have A Dream Foundation had not helped him during his early years in a poor, rough corner of Atlanta.

"I'd probably be in jail or dead, to tell you the truth," said Carter, who turned his life around and now earns millions of dollars each year as a pro athlete.

He gives much of the credit to I Have A Dream, and now he's the first-ever national spokesman for the foundation that since 1986 has been working to keep disadvantaged kids in school.

Marina Winton, chief executive, says Carter will serve as a role model in perseverance for kids and he'll also carry the foundation's message to potential financial supporters.

"Every organization needs a voice," she said. "We want to be able to open more projects."

Carter, 28, who joined the Spurs as a free agent last summer, was a fifth-grader in 1987 when his entire class at Fred A. Toomer Elementary School was adopted by I Have A Dream sponsor Llew Haden, an Atlanta businessman who is now the foundation's national chairman.

The idea is that the sponsor helps shepherd the children to keep them on the right track through high school, but Carter dropped out of school after his freshman year. For the next three years, he was a high-stakes teenage basketball hustler on playgrounds around the city.

Haden, however, didn't forget about him. Eventually, the sponsor got Carter to focus more on the long term by acquiring a GED and then taking his well-honed hoops skills first to a junior college in California and then to the University of Hawaii.

"Everybody hits a bump in the road," Haden said, "and I Have A Dream was there when he hit his bump."

Carter, who played four seasons in Miami before signing with the Spurs as backup point guard, is ready to assist others get past their bumps.

"So many kids face challenges bigger than themselves," he said. "They all have the potential and desire to achieve their dreams. ... These kids just need that extra attention."


Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press