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Feb 21: Brooklyn Black History Maker, Carmelo Anthony

Over the course of his basketball career, Anthony became one of the game's great scorers.
carmelo anthony

Carmelo Anthony was born in Red Hook on May 29, 1984, to Carmelo Iriarte and Mary Anthony.

The youngest of four children, Anthony and his family lived in the Red Hook housing projects on Lorraine Street. Anthony's father was a talented basketball player himself according to fellow residents. Tragically, he died from cancer when Anthony was just 2.

His mother Mary continued to work as a housekeeper to provide for the family.

Anthony was known for shooting, dribbling and always having a basketball in hand from a young age, with many at the Red Hook projects remembering him as a young jock.

When Anthony was 8, the family moved to Baltimore, where they lived in a rough, drug-infested neighborhood known as the Pharmacy (made famous by TV show "The Wire"). Mary kept her children on a short leash and made sure Anthony stayed on top of his schoolwork.

A friend from the neighborhood said: "From drugs to killings, to anything you can name that goes on in the roughest parts of town, we've seen and witnessed hands on. Those are the things that teach you toughness and keep you mentally focused on your goals."

For Anthony, that goal become professional basketball.

Anthony became a star player at Towson Catholic High School after growing five inches in his sophomore year and showing a level of talent not often seen. He became one of the area's top players and made a name for himself, one that college coaches couldn't ignore.

By his junior year, Anthony had committed to playing for Syracuse University, but to meet the academic requirements for the school he transferred to strict private school, Oak Hill Academy in Virginia.

Applying himself to basketball and his grades, Anthony became the highest-ranked high school basketball player in the country — but he did feel ready to jump straight into the NBA. Instead, Anthony kept his commitment to Syracuse.

Anthony, a freshman player, was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player in 2003, after his first season. He then declared himself ready to enter the 2003 NBA draft, where he was picked third overall (behind LeBron James and Dwayne Wade) by the Denver Nuggets.

In his sixth ever NBA game, Anthony scored 30 points, becoming the second youngest player to score 30 points or more in a game. The youngest is Kobe Bryant. In 2007,  Anthony was invited to play his first All-Star game, and in subsequent years has made additional All-Star teams.

While on an upwards trajectory in Denver, Anthony didn't forget his roots, donating $1.5 million in 2006 to open the Carmelo Anthony Youth Development Center, a 29,000-square-foot facility that includes a full-court gymnasium as well as computers and classrooms.

In 2010, Anthony wed Lala Vazquez, a former MTV VJ, in Manhattan. They share two children together, a son and a daughter. The couple has since divorced. 

Not long after, the pair, both from Brooklyn, made a move to New York when the Denver Nuggets made a trade with the Knicks, much to Anthony's delight.

After his first game, Anothy said: "That night was one of the best moments I've ever been a part of  I've played in national championships, gold-medal games, ­conference-finals games. But that game is the one."

Anthony led the Knicks to a 54-28 record in 2012-13, and the following year he set the franchise scoring record with a career-high 62 points.

But things soured behind him and then-President Phil Jackson, and in 2017 he left for the Oklahoma City Thunder. The next summer, he was traded to the Atlanta Hawks, then he was released and signed as a free agent by the Houston Rockets. He only appeared in 10 games for the Rockets, before announcing he would be traded. Anthony was then a year off-court, before signing a one-year deal with the Portland Trail Blazers. He played one season for the Los Angeles Lakers, before retiring in 2023.

Over the course of his career, Anthony has become one of basketball's great scorers.

In addition to his NBA credentials, he was also a key member of the 2008 and 2012 gold-medal-winning Olympic men's basketball teams. He has been named an NBA All-Star ten times and an All-NBA Team member six times.

Today, the Red Hook houses where he was born holds the annual The Paradise Classic, featuring the Brother 'Melo tournament, a slate of games sponsored by Anthony in memory of his friend Marquise Perez, a 15-year-old victim of a fatal gunshot in 2008, who went by the nickname "Brother."

Carmelo Anothy, we acknowledge the enormous contributions you have made to the sport of basketball, and we honor your professional successes and community contributions.

*Sources:, New York Magazine, New York Times, New York Daily News,

February is Black History Month! Every day this month, BK Reader will profile one Black History Maker born or raised in Brooklyn. There are countless Brooklynites— past and present— who have contributed to America's fabric as pioneers or leaders in art, entertainment, sports, science and government. This month, we present to you 28! Click here to see all of the profiles.