Mama Anthony was (and still is) the glue to this family. A deeply religious and spiritual woman with an uncanny ability to soothe aching souls, she never judged me for growing up “on the wrong side of the tracks.” In fact, she treated me like one of her own four children, Michael Jr., Tom, David, and Andrea. When you watch The Anthony Family Tribute video, you’ll see why I have such love for Mama Anthony’s sacrificial heart of generosity. She had a profound impact on my life.
Obviously, Papa Anthony had to sign off on Mama Anthony’s compassion overture, though our relationship back then was strained. Truthfully, it was excruciating being in his presence and I avoided interactions with him at all cost. For me, it was so foreign to see a “real man” take care of his family and provide the emotional support every child deserves. I never saw him berate his wife or children, or raise his voice in an agitated or angry tone. He was (and remains) a true gentleman in every sense of the word.
What’s so remarkable about the Anthony family is this: Their treatment of me didn’t change as my basketball prospects grew brighter and paychecks grew fatter. Never once did they ask for tickets to an Ohio State or NBA game. They cared about Lawrence Funderburke the person, who, at the time, just happened to be a highly skilled basketball player and a classmate of their oldest child, Michael Jr. Throughout my basketball circles, then and now, it’s rare to meet people like the Anthony’s, whose only concern is for your well-being, not what they can gain socially or financially from their relationship with you. As my grandmother would often say before she passed, “They don’t make ’em like that anymore.” So true.