As a second-year NBA player, Brandon Ingram has already used his platform to make significant contributions off of the court. Being named to this year’s Mtn Dew Kickstart Rising Stars roster, Ingram is most excited about the opportunities this experience gives him to further impact the lives of children.
“Having this opportunity means a lot. I grew up watching the game for a very long time. It’s really a blessing to play with and against the best young players in the league. Jerry Stackhouse was the blue print for me. As this generation’s kids grow up, I’ll try to be the blueprint for them to show them no matter where they’re from, they can make it out of any situation,” Ingram told RULING Sports.
Growing up in Kinston, North Carolina, Ingram was mentored by Stackhouse, who used basketball as a tool to keep a young Ingram away from troubles surrounding the area. Recently, Ingram returned to his hometown to refurbish the basketball court he grew up playing on.
“The gym is what they can use as a safe house to go when they have nothing to do. They can go in there and try to put in the work and there are people who will try to help them,” he said.
As a member of the Lakers organization, Ingram has found new leaders to help him mold his personal brand on and off of the court. Los Angeles Lakers president of basketball operations and serial entrepreneur, Magic Johnson, has helped shape Ingram’s understanding of how he can use basketball as a tool to impact others.
“The way Magic and his team have worked and talked to the players makes us want to do the right thing and play basketball the right way. The way we carry ourselves on the court lets us have more opportunities off of the court,” Ingram noted.
When discussing what he envisions his personal brand becoming, Ingram noted, “It’s a brand of humility, integrity, having fun and being the guy who works on his craft at all times knowing that people are watching. I always want to do the right thing and be known as hard working,” he said.
Ingram’s Lakers enter the NBA All-Star break in 11th place in the Western Conference. Making one of the biggest trades of the NBA trade deadline, Ingram addressed the changes in the Lakers’ locker room and how players responded to the team trading Larry Nance Jr. and Jordan Clarkson to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Isaiah Thomas and Channing Frye.
“We felt like we lost somebody that we were connected to for a long time. It was different, because we actually see each other every single day, whether it’s at games, practice or us going out to eat. It was different to see them out of the locker room and going to another team. They went to a really good situation, though, where they can be happy,” Ingram told RULING SPORTS.
Despite losing friends to the trade, Ingram is excited about the direction the Lakers are headed.
“With Isaiah Thomas and Channing Frye coming in, Thomas can really score the basketball and Frye is a good veteran for our team who can stretch our offense. They are good additions to our team,” he said.
What can fans expect from the Lakers after the All-Star break? Ingram is hopeful for a strong team performance.
“We have an expectation for ourselves to get better each and every day. As the season goes on, especially with the new guys, we want to play the right way. Thomas and Frye can affect our offense in different ways. In the last five to six games, we found a niche of how we want to play and how different guys can affect the play,” Ingram explained.
Fans can watch Ingram compete in the 2018 Mtn Dew Kickstart Rising Stars on Friday, February 16 at 9 p.m. ET on TNT.