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Zech and Mabel Marbury: All In The Family

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This year NBA Superstar Stephon Marbury launched his historic Starbury sneaker. Priced at a mere $14.95, it offered a way for Marbury to give back to the community by providing a low cost, quality shoe for kids with big dreams but small budgets. Stephon isn’t the only member of the Marbury family with a giving spirit. His younger brother Zech is working hard to follow in his brother’s footsteps – not only by getting into the NBA, but through public speaking and mentoring programs as well. Zech is also in the process of bringing his story to the public through the release of a DVD documentary that will provide insight into how he grew into the man he is today, simultaneously inspiring young people to pursue their dreams. Zech and Stephon’s generosity is an ideal that’s been encouraged throughout their lifetimes by Mabel Marbury, the matriarch of the family. While raising seven children was never an easy task for her, she leaned on her faith for strength and always made sure to keep her children focused on making the world a better place. We spoke with Zech and Mrs. Marbury to talk both about how they keep all the family love and business flowing. AllHipHop.com Alternatives: In addition to the obvious notoriety from the sports world, the Marbury family is well known for philanthropy and community involvement. What’s been the main motivator for you to put so much emphasis on giving back? Mrs. Marbury: We just try to do what we can do. I have a lot of children so it was always difficult, but the older people in Coney Island used to help me so much. God would always send us an angel, so now I feel that since we’re in the position to be able to help others, that’s what we’re supposed to do. I always taught my children that when you keep you hand closed nothing can get in, but when you open it up, you get all kinds of things. When you bless someone else, you will be blessed, but you have to do it with your heart. AHHA: You do see a lot of athletes and celebrities who get their name attached to some kind of charity, but after the press release and the photo opp, you never hear anything about it again. What is the Marbury family doing to make sure that your efforts have a long-term impact? Mrs. Marbury: It’s basically about keeping in touch. We follow up with the kids and Zech will go and speak at the schools. It isn’t just a “one day” thing; it’s an everyday thing when it comes to raising children and keeping them on the right track. The kids who really need things will come by the office and pick up sneakers and clothes or whatever else they might need. It’s important to me that we help, because there was a time when somebody gave me something. You can’t forget where you came from. That’s the problem with a lot of the world today. When people really make it and don’t have any worries, they forget about the places where they came from where people don’t have. You have no idea what you might have to go through until it’s all over with. The people you saw coming up are the same people you’ll see coming down. AHHA: You recently held a workshop in Arlington, Virginia [“From Boys to Men: The Road to Academic Achievement”] where you brought children together with successful members of the community… Mrs. Marbury: It was really very rewarding. We had lot of children there to hear several Congressmen speaking, plus Zech got a chance to speak as well. I could tell the children were really enjoying it and getting a lot out of it. They like to see a young man working hard and trying to make it. AHHA: Zech, you didn’t have the “Cinderella Story” of being offered a huge NBA contract right out of high school and instead, you’ve had to work hard over the years trying to make it. Given that, what kinds of advice are you giving to the kids you talk to who may want to pursue a career in sports? Zech: I’m glad that I didn’t hit the NBA scene fully at an early age. When I was 17-years-old, I was already involved from my brother getting drafted. I was living that NBA lifestyle at the same time as playing at the high school level and trying to develop my game. It was a blessing from God that He wanted me to wait. Picture me running around in a Ferrari at 17-years-old. Could you be focused? With all that my brother was going through [since he went in at an early age], it might’ve been too much for the family to handle all at once, so His plan was for me to come in at a later stage in my career. You have to put your faith in God and just try to follow His plan. Mrs. Marbury: [laughs] Zech is my baby of the seven, and I think he was really the most devilish. He used to just walk up and hit kids for no reason, but now he’s just so different. It feels so good to think back on him as a child to now where I see him growing into a man. Even compared to a few years ago, he cares about things now. God forgives us for all the things we do, and now I see that he’s trusting the Lord and putting God as the first person in his life. I’m so grateful that I as a mother can see it. AHHA: Moving back to your basketball career, the words is you’ll be attending the NBA camp this summer to develop further and get another look. What kind of progress do you believe you’ve made on the way to your ultimate goal? Zech: There’s always room for improvement, but I don’t know what else specifically I can improve, so I just play my best. As far as anyone else on a pro level, I think I’m the best, so I’ll never really know how it’ll go until I get out there. I’m only 27, so I’m about to be in the prime of my career. I was always with my brother, so I understand the struggles. AHHA: How has having a famous last name helped you throughout your career? Zech: The blessing is that it kept our family together when things were bad. Like my mom told you, we didn’t have everything coming up, but we stayed together as one happy family, and I knew I was gonna get my chance because of my brother’s success. AHHA: At the same time though, because of your brother’s success, people will always draw comparisons and view you through his lens. Do the high expectations make it difficult as you develop? Zech: Oh, no! The expectations are exactly where they’re supposed to be. My mother always drove us to compete with each other, lift each other up to be the best, and learn from each other. I study him day in, day out. When he’s on the court, it’s like I’m down there playing too; that’s how I look at the game. I see myself in the uniform doing the same thing and learning how the game is played. AHHA: Many parents struggle when it comes to children who want careers in sports or entertainment. On one hand, you want to encourage your child, but on the other, you also want the child to understand how difficult it can be. How did you guide your many athletic children as they grew? Mrs. Marbury: We were just always truthful about it. There are millions of people who have that dream, but everybody’s not going to play in the NBA. That’s just how it is. I tell my children to do whatever they want to do and not give up their dreams and it’ll happen if it’s meant to be. If Zech really wants to play in the NBA, then I believe that that’s what he’ll do. I believe that somebody is going to give him a chance, and that’s all he needs. AHHA: What are you hoping to show people with the DVD documentary that they might not otherwise see? Zech: When we give back, we do what we’re doing for a reason and it’s the same thing with this DVD; it’s a documentary about the story of my life so people can see where I came from and understand what it was like for us. I know that people really want to know were I’m at. They might act like they don’t, but they want to know. AHHA: How close are you to getting it on the streets? Zech: I’m being patient and shopping it right now to get the best deal. I’m not rushing anything, because God has been good enough to me that I don’t have to worry. I can just work to reach my goals. AHHA: So you’re definitely optimistic about your future whether the NBA happens or not? Zech: My brother always told me not to put all your eggs in one basket. I’m still working at the NBA, but I have other things too. I’m gonna get into acting, so it’ll take work to learn how to play different characters, to tell jokes and make people laugh. I’m working on starting businesses. I want to build buildings for kids, where I can use NBA checks to pay the rent for people that can’t themselves, and treat them like real people. Look forward to seeing me this summer. I’m asking God just for one more look. If it doesn’t work out, then I’ll pack it up and move on, but I know all I need is just one more look and I’ll make it happen. It’s all part of God’s vision for me, so I put myself in His hands.

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