Skip to content

NBA players who think they had it tough growing up should talk to Leandro Barbosa

Jan 18, 2013, 12:40 PM EST

Leandro Barbosa, Gerald Green AP

It’s a common story of NBA players — they focused on the game as a way they might be able to lift themselves and their family out of poverty and rough neighborhoods. That they were lucky to have the game keeping them out of gangs, keeping them alive.

And it is true.

But if guys think they had it tough growing up on Chicago’s south side or Red Hook in Brooklyn, they need to go talk to Leandro Barbosa.

In detailing the family challenges he faces — Barbosa missed games in December because his mother-in-law is in a medically-induced coma to keep her alive while they find replacement kidneys — the Brazilian point guard discussed what it was like growing up poor in Brazil to Jessica Camerato of CSNNE.com.

“When you have time, Google ‘favelas’ in Brazil,” he urged. “You will see houses on the hills and it is the most dangerous thing you can see . . . I don’t think you guys have that here in America and probably can’t even imagine how it is….

“We didn’t have beds to sleep on,” he said. “It was just blankets and we would sleep on the ground…. “Sometimes we had food, sometimes not,” he said. “I always had food because I was the youngest, so my sisters and brothers always saved food for me if we had a hard time to eat. I was the lucky one and I really appreciated that….

“The streets are really small,” he said. “I would walk and I could see guys with guns shooting people or putting fires on the people, all that kind of stuff. I had to (look straight ahead). I couldn’t look or say anything or say anything to anybody else or the cops because I could be the next one to be killed… When I was in school, I didn’t know if I was going to come back to my place alive or if I would leave my place alive because there were people shooting people. It was surprising for me a couple times that nothing happened, no shooting. It could have happened any time.”

If you want a partial vision of life in a favela, go watch “City of God” sometime.

It’s just a reminder — we are fans, this is our escape and sometimes we get caught up in the lack of production from a role player and lose perspective. These are human beings, who have been through and are going through personal ups and downs just like the rest of us. Having NBA money can ease some challenges, but the issues of life, death and love know no boundaries of class or ethnicity. Guys on the court are dealing with stuff off the court, just like you are.

And any time you think you’ve got it rough, there is someone who has had it worse.

Latest Posts
  1. Giannis Antetokounmpo sprains ankle, leaves Bucks game not to return

    Dec 17, 2014, 11:46 PM EST

    Milwaukee Bucks v Portland Trail Blazers Getty Images

    He walked off under his own power but did not return.

  2. Report: Mavericks and Celtics in ‘substantive discussion’ about Rajon Rondo trade

    Dec 17, 2014, 11:33 PM EST

    Boston Celtics v Dallas Mavericks Getty Images

    Rockets, Kings and Knicks also reportedly inquiring about Celtics point guard

  3. Adam Silver says Charlotte hosting All-Star Game is inevitable

    Dec 17, 2014, 10:25 PM EST

    Adam Silver AP

    In related news, Hornets got a ton of public funding to upgrade arena

  4. Greg Monroe’s agent says he does not want a trade from Pistons

    Dec 17, 2014, 7:39 PM EST

    Detroit Pistons v Orlando Magic Getty Images

    The offers are not going to be big, will Stan Van Gundy eventually give in and take one?

  5. Now what for Milwaukee Bucks? For rookie of the year race?

    Dec 17, 2014, 5:31 PM EST

    Jabari Parker AP

    There are no good answers for the Bucks, or for other rookies to reward.

  6. Kings owner says Malone fired because Kings now need “jazz director”

    Dec 17, 2014, 4:03 PM EST

    Oklahoma City at Sacramento Oklahoma City at Sacramento

    The Kings roster is poorly suited right now for the style the owner wants to play.

  7. Report: Pistons asked for Kyle Korver and Jeff Teague in discussing Greg Monroe trade with Hawks

    Dec 17, 2014, 2:30 PM EST

    Greg Monroe AP

    Portland also reportedly tried to trade for Monroe before he signed the one-year qualifying offer to stay in Detroit.

  8. Isaiah Austin gets added as a player in NBA 2K15 video game

    Dec 17, 2014, 1:50 PM EST

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznptg2mzfkyty1yze1ntrjmmmwogrlmge3mdezmdqzmwfk AP

    Former Baylor University center was expected to be drafted, but was diagnosed with a disease that prematurely ended his chances of playing in the NBA.

  9. Dwyane Wade gets poked in the eye by referee, then flops (VIDEO)

    Dec 17, 2014, 1:10 PM EST

    Dwyane Wade AP

    Wade has a reputation of being a flopper, and appeared to exaggerate the contact from the official.

  10. Tyson Chandler says he feels sorry for Carmelo Anthony

    Dec 17, 2014, 12:30 PM EST

    Dallas Mavericks v New York Knicks Getty Images

    He pities ‘Melo because a real competitor is suffering through a lot of losing.

Featured video

Can red hot Warriors sustain success?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. D. Favors (7378)
  2. K. Martin (6649)
  3. A. Davis (6637)
  4. J. Noah (6553)
  5. T. Parker (6147)
  1. T. Jones (6143)
  2. D. Cousins (6140)
  3. A. Bogut (6110)
  4. K. Leonard (5999)
  5. B. Lopez (5795)