Years before J Cole smoked the rap charts, he was a 6-year-old taking a cigarette.
The 38-year-old “No Role Modelz” rapper, whose real name is Jermaine Cole, spoke about his single mom, Kay, being disappointed to learn more about his habit during Tuesday’s episode of Leading by Example with Bob Myers Podcast.
“At the age of six, I smoked cigarettes regularly around the neighborhood,” Cole, who grew up in Fayetteville, North Carolina, told Myers, president and general manager of the Golden State Warriors.
“I always ran around the older kids in the neighborhood [my older brother, Zach] They were hanging out and they were smoking. And I was young and brave and trying to be nice.”
So, it was like, ‘Oh, you all smoke. let me see that.’ And of course, we’re all out there [with] Young dads, long leashes. not this [my mom] I knew I was doing this, Cole continued.
He explained that the 10-year-old’s neighbor kids thought it was “funny” that the youngster smoked – until his brother caught him asking for a cig and ran home to tell their mom.
“She was like, say something,” Cole recalls the encounter with his mother, who is a war veteran. “I was like, ‘What do you mean, say something?'” And when I said it bent down, I could smell cigarette smoke on my breath.
“The reason I think this was a life-changing moment where I then didn’t need so much correction — I became self-correcting — was because that was the first time I realized, ‘Oh, my actions could hurt someone else,'” he explained.
The Grammy Award winner also made his professional basketball overseas with the Rwanda Patriots in the Basketball Africa League in 2021.
Last year, he played guard for the Canadian team Scarborough Shooting Stars. Cole previously played high school basketball at North Carolina State.
“I loved listening to music, pretending to be Bobby Brown or pretending to be Michael Jackson,” Cole said when asking Myers if music or basketball was his “first love”.
“I just remember loving listening to music and then years later basketball came because everyone in the neighborhood plays basketball, but of course—you’re a kid—everyone goes to the NBA on their minds,” he said. “That was me.”
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