Roosevelt Bowie (Syracuse Legend)

Interview from May 12, 2012

Etan Thomas: How are you doing sir. Much respect to you. And thank you for doing this interview for me. If you could tell me about what helped you growing up and who were some of your role models growing up and did you have your father as a role model growing up?

Roosevelt Bowie: No problem Etan I have always had a lot of respect for you so happy to be a part of your project. I had my father i my life as a role model. Naturally thats very important to have your father as that male figure in your life as a young boy. I also had extended family. My mother and my Grandmother were there as well. So I had a strong group of people guiding me. And my Grandmother was like the Queen. She said it, and it was so. There was no discussion it was just so. She had a rule that we all go to church on Sunday, and come Sunday, there was no discussion, we were all going to church. She would tell me over and over that birds of a feather flock together, so she had us at church events and functions, and it gave us the idea of the type of people that we wanted to keep in our lives. In our inner circle.

But my dad was all about teaching lessons. I remember one day I told him the story of a girl in my class. I was young maybe 1st grade, and she had a party for her birthday. She opened up a gift and started crying because it wasn’t what she wanted. So it was my dad’s birthday and I wanted to ask him what he wanted because I didn’t want him to start crying if I gave him something he didn’t want. The thinking of a child is hilarious, but thats what I thought, and I told my dad that, and he said to me and I’ll never forget it he said, “What I want for my birthday is to be here, everything else is a plus”. And at that young age, it started formulating my character and my outlook on life. If you wake up on your birthday, you don’t need anything else, you are blessed to have woken up. That carried through my entire life even as an adult. It formulated my entire outlook on life. Its  funny because kids pay attention to everything their parents do. They may not listen to everything they say do, but they hear, watch and pay attention to everything their parents do. Thats something that changed my life, and you know what, I don’t know if I have ever even told my dad the story of how much those words stuck with me.

Etan Thomas: Wow, that’s great. Now, when you were playing at Syracuse, how connected were you to your father and your family and how did that help you through that whole process? Going to college and starting to play ball, it kind of forces you to grow up quickly

Roosevelt Bowie: Yea, it was an interesting situation. My mother and father were separated when I was 13 years old. But, they were both very active in my upbringing especially in those years when I was getting ready to go to Syracuse. I remember my Dad bought me a car so I could get back and forth to practice and not put too much of a stress on my mother. My mom made it very clear that I could do what I wanted basketball wise, but that my grades could not suffer.

Etan Thomas: Now, when you see young people who don’t have that positive role model in their life, do you think that really negatively effects them?

Roosevelt Bowie: When I was at Syracuse, I did a lot of child and family studies, I did a lot of Big Brother and speaking at schools. I have to say that a lot of the problems I saw, were caused because there were no strong father figures in the homes. The mother was trying to be both mother and father and thats just not the way that God ordained it to be. The mother plays a role and the father plays a role and together they are suppose to raise up a child in the way he should go. Now, there are a lot of mothers who are making the most of their unfortunate situation being single moms, and who are doing a great job, but at a certain point a boy needs the guidance of a man. The best thing about men is testosterone, and the worst thing about men is testosterone. When they start going buck wild sometimes you need a father to come in there and say hey cut the crap.

Etan Thomas: Now what if you don’t have a father there? What advice to you give to those young men? When I was younger I had positive men in my life, I had my Pastor and AAU coach in Tulsa Rev Potter, I had Coach Orr, your college teammate, when I was at Syracuse, I had Pastor Jenkins with the eight years I was with the Wizards. So I had positive men in my life, but what do you tell young men who don’t have positive men in their lives?

Roosevelt Bowie: I have was fortunate to have positive male role models in each phase of my life and each step I made in my career as well. For instance, I was recruited by about 90 schools from across the country when I was in high school. I lived in Kendall, New York its about 1,500 people there are probably more colleges than there are people in the town I lived in. So, when I was looking to decide what college I wanted to attend, a couple of interesting things happened. Number 1, my mother she was at every meeting that I had with coaches, and she never said a word she just sat there and listened. And at the end when I finally picked the school I wanted to go to I asked her why she never said anything? Why she never asked any questions or anything? She said, you have to understand I have already won. I wanted you to be able to go to school and get an education, and now there are 90 different Universities who all want to give you a full scholarship to go to college, I have won.

So when I decided to go to Syracuse, what I did and what I think all young men should do is pick a coach who has the similar characteristics of their father and this is the reason. If ever we are in a tense situation and the coach has to yell at me, I want to be able to take it as if I was being chastised by my father and not have a negative reaction to being corrected. Coach Boehiem was like my dad. He had the characteristics of my dad. He didn’t say a lot. Would tell me what is acceptable and what is not acceptable, would tell me this is what I expect of you, and lay it all out in the open so that there was no ambiguity. That is the same way my dad handled me. I have four sisters and I remember my dad sitting me down and saying that under no circumstance ever will you ever put your hands on my girls. No matter what happens no matter they do, you will never put your hands on them to strike them, so I knew that was not an option. He laid the ground rules and that is the way that I saw Coach Boehiem lay out the rules, but their personalities were similar so even if Coach Boehiem yelled at me I never got offended

Etan Thomas: Wow That is a great point and I have never really thought of it like that. See, I didn’t have that type of a relationship with Jim Boehiem, so I actually got offended. Very offended to be honest. I wasn’t used to having no grown man yell at me like that. I didn’t grow up with my father so I was sensitive to that. Come to think of it, I did better with female teachers than I did with male teachers as well. Because I wasn’t used to male authority figures. But at Syracuse, I had that type of relationship with assistant Coach Louis Orr, and he got on me hard. He would yell and scream and make you feel bad for not playing up to my potential or settling and I never got offended once. Actually, if it had not been for him, I wouldn’t have made it through my freshman year at Syracuse. Probably would’ve ended up strangling Boehiem lol but seriously finding a coach that you see as a father figure makes perfect sense. Wow, thanks for that insight

Roosevelt Bowie: No problem Good luck with this project I think this is great what you are doing