AmarPhoenix Suns power forward/center Amare Stoudemire enters the Opus–LA photo studio, and fills the room with height and, presumably, physical ability—are gobbled up by his shadow. is is more than a testament to sheer size; there’s an intensity reflected mostly in the eyes, predatory one-way mirrors that would be scary to face anywhere, especially in his chosen arena, a basketball court. You could get better odds of defeating a cheetah in a game of tag than of scoring against this guy. Anyway you look at it, you lose.

But where does the internal power come from that separates him from the rest of us? Good genes, hard work, and pas-sion certainly play a part, but the fuel that lights the fire to power the body that moves the ball comes from a place so deep it has yet to be mapped, a mysterious place called the soul, a place we went looking for, a place that nobody knows. Interviewed and photographed exclusively for Risen Magazine.

Interviewed and photographed exclusively for Risen Magazine.

Risen Magazine: I know you love music; does it have any influence on your game?
Amare Stoudemire: I don’t think so. Music is something that influences my lifestyle, but not really my game.

RM: We interviewed Tupac’s Shakur’s mother, Afeni, a while back. It seems that you and Tupac have similarities, in struggle and passion, and love for your mothers. Even your first name and his middle name, Amar, are similar.
AS: Growing up in the streets of poverty and being able to make it out . . . it’s similar to Tupac’s life and his mother-son relationship.My mom was definitely an inspiration in my life,the things that she stressed and taught me, from a spiritual standpoint. I think it definitely helped.

RM: You could have gone a lot of different ways, but you continued moving toward play-ing in the NBA. What helped you to do that?
AS: All my friends were in the streets, but I had a goal in mind. I hung out with them, but my goal was to be successful for my family, be-cause at the time they needed some help. at kept me strong. I was always like the mentor among my friends, and I always gave them words of encouragement and tried to lift them above the situation, even at a young age.

RM: Did you ever feel a sense of destiny?
AS: Since the age of eight,I knew I would make it to the NBA. It was an internal feeling I had when I was a kid. When I went to school and played ball or whatever I did with my friends, I was always a little bit better, a little taller, a little faster and that kept my confidence going. I just kept growing as a person and as an athlete.

RM: Your tattoos seem to tell a story.
AS: Yeah, Cartoon, a famous tattoo artist, does most of them. All my tattoos are dedicated to God, really. My kids are young and if I died right now they could get to know me by mytats, what I stand for and what I believe in and how I made it out of poverty. My tattoos are a testimony.

All my tattoos are dedicated to God, really. My kids are young and if I died right now they could get to know me by my tats, what I stand for and what I believe in and how I made it out of poverty.

RM: What fuels you more, love or anger?
AS: I think love is a greater fuel. Amare means love, so love is definitely something I cherish. Anger fuels me as well, but not as much as love. You can be in and out of situations, but love helps you not to take it out on anybody else, but to better that situation. Anger can get you started, get you thinking about the situation.

RM: Did you get into a lot of fistfights as a kid?
AS: I got into fights all the time. Whenever I hung out with my older brother, he would make me fight with kids my age. Nine out of ten times I’d end up being the winner. Fighting was a part of our culture. We would wrestle, we loved to slap box. Even now, I rough up some of my friends, just for the love factor, it’s genuine.

RM: What would cause you get into a real fight?
AS: Well, it takes a lot to get me to fight. e person on the other end of it has to do some-thing that pushes my buttons more than twice. I let it go a few times and if they still don’t re-spect the fact that I’m bein’ genuine about it, they still push my buttons, it sets the alarm off. It takes a lot, but when it happens, it happens.

RM: You walk into an arena with 10,000 peo-ple shouting your name, and some of them are booing you. Still, you have to have this confi-dence and this feeling that you’re nearly super-human. Yet, being a man of faith, you need to combine that with a sense of humility. How do you pull that?
AS: I look at basketball as my job, my career. My faith is my life, everything besides basket-ball. After basketball,you still have to have faith, or your spirituality,whatever you believe in.Your career could last fifteen to twenty years,but your spirituality is what gets you over the hump. It’s what keeps you humble, keeps you focused.

RM: You face every distraction in the world on the court, including some beautiful women try-ing to make eye contact with you, and some of them want to get you up to their rooms; how do you stay focused?
AS: It’s easy for me to blur it out because when I wasn’t “Amare Stoudemire superstar basket-ball player”those people didn’t really care. Now, I don’t care. You can look all you want, you can try to get close all you want, whatever, and it doesn’t faze me. I’ve been through the ups and downs, I know how it feels to be overlooked or not looked at as an equal. So, it doesn’t bother me anymore at all. I take it for what it is; I cash my checks and go shopping, splurge and have a great time with my friends and family.

RM: One of your tattoos is from Mathew 20:16—what does that mean to you?
AS: It’s a testimonial about poverty—e first shall be last and the last first, many are called but few are chosen. When you’re growin’up on the streets it’s kind of tough to be successful. Due to slavery we’re still a few steps behind and it takes a lot more to be what you want to be, because you’re not able to see what you need to see. You’re not able to touch what you need to touch. You’re not able to grow, all because of slavery. at’s why I started my Each One Teach One Foundation. I made it out [of poverty] due to being a great basketball player. A lot of kids aren’t going to be able to dunk on Shaquille O’Neal, or shoot over LeBron James. Some players, some kids can’t do that, so there’re more ways to make it out besides sports. We’re trying to stress the fact that edu-cation is the way.

RM: What are the roots of Each One Teach One?
AS: It’s a phrase I thought of about four years ago. I was in a conversation with my friends and words and phrases started comin’ out of me, and that’s one I hung onto and wanted to stamp on people’s lives.

RM: How would you define God?
AS: Love. Love is what God is all about.

RM: How would God define you?
AS: He would define me as Israel, Son of God, that’s what I am. I stay positive, positive ways of going about things.You gotta raise your voice at times, sometimes you gotta force the issue, but for the most part you just gotta be positive and do the right thing.When you do the right thing, the spirit of love, the spirit of God will take you where you need to be, take you to the top.

RM: You palmed and swallowed those M&M’s in your hand pretty quickly. Other than that, do you have any special diet?
AS: [Laughs] One thing I love is Powerade, it’s a great drink. But no, I don’t eat shellfish, I don’t eat pork, I don’t eat beef, I don’t eat cat-fish. I eat turkey, fish, and chicken.

RM: Would you go to war for any reason?
AS: I’d go to war for my family. If anybody put a hand on my kids there’s gonna be repercus-sions; there’s gonna be trouble. I stand for what’s right and I’ll fight for what’s right. What’s right is right, what’s wrong is wrong. It’s that simple.

RM: As a kid, did you ever promise God any-thing?
AS: ere’ve been a lot of prayers, I’ll tell you that. I definitely wanted to help my family, as far as my mom and my older brother and my younger brother. I definitely wanted to be the best I could be for them, so I told God that if he would allow me to be the best basketball player I could be, I’d do a job for Him, I’d be an ambassador. at’s what I’m doing now.

RM: What do you look for in a friend?
AS: Honesty, I think that’s what makes friends, someone who is totally honest. You know he’s gonna be honest about any opinion. I think that’s what a lot of people in the world need. A girl comes up and asks, “Do I look fat in this dress?” Oh man, don’t ask me that question.[Laughs] I pick it up quickly when people aren’t being honest with me. It’s like a sixth sense.

RM: If pride made the greatest angel into the devil, how does a person resist being prideful?
AS: ere’s a thin line, you can be proud of what transpires, but when you become con-ceited, you have too much pride and you treat everybody else like whatnots.

RM: Do you recall any strange dreams you’ve had?
AS: e only person I told this to was my mom, but I was on a basketball court with a few friends. I went up to dunk and all of the sudden I kept going up. Now I’m over the backboard looking down and still goin’up. Now I’m in the clouds lookin’down and still goin’up. Now I’m over the city of Phoenix and I can see the skyscrapers and I’m still goin’up. All of the sudden I get to this land, this place where there was nothing but fruit. ere was fruit every-where, fruit baskets, fruit trees, everywhere there was fruit. I grab something from a tree and take a bit [makes crunching sound] and go, ‘Man, that’s nice.’ I’m up there for like an hour or so. It’s like, Man, where am I? en all of the sudden it’s like [makes falling sound] I fell back down to the court. I ran home to tell Mom about it and I woke up.

RM: Do you have any idea what that dream means?
AS: I’ll tell you what it means; it means that I’m on the right track—that’s what I take from it. Whatever I’m doin’, I’m doin’ a solid job. To be able to reach a place with nothing but peace and quiet and surrounded by fruit. Fruit is filled with natural vitamins, a beautiful thing, a beautiful gift.

RM: What does it feel like to fly?
AS: In my dreams?

RM: No, I’m talkin’ about flying on the court.
AS: Man, it feels good, it feels real good.To be able to take off in front of 18,000, I mean, come on. It’s like a rush and the best thing about it is when somebody wants to challenge you.e way I look at it is that when a guy tries to block my shot, he’s trying to embarrass me, so I’m gonna embarrass him. Move out of the way; just get out of the way.

RM: Will it be a hard transition for you when it’s time to leave basketball?
AS: Not for me, I don’t think so. ere’s more to life than basketball. A lot of players say bas-ketball is their life; they eat, breathe, and dream basketball. Basketball, basketball, basketball. Well, it’s the same for me, but when I’m done I’m done. I’ll hang my shoes up and let my son grab the ball.

RM: One of your tattoos says “Nobody knows my soul.”
AS: You can judge someone’s character, but your soul is what’s in you. It’s like your and God’s secret. Somebody asks you what’s your soul, you can’t even tell ‘em. Nobody knows my soul.e tattoo is Jesus carryin’ a guy who can’t walk. He’s been workin’, strugglin’, tryin’to feed his family and he can’t do it no more. Jesus is carryin’ the guy and it’s like footprints. No mat-ter what you’re goin’ through, you can make it just by believing, by having faith, being posi-tive and having love.

 

RM: What did you do with your first big check?
AS: [Laughs] Half of it went to savings. e other half, I think I bought my mom a house before I bought myself one. I bought her a house and a car and everything else went to, you know . . .

RM: Where do you see yourself in 10,000 years?
AS: [Laughs] Ten thousand years? Man, you know, back in that dream, on that land with all that fruit, quiet and peaceful, with my kids.