Charlie Villanueva's (the Detroit Piston NBA basketball star) height is perhaps a reflection of his larger than life heart and soul. Charlie's life is symbolic of all that the Statue of Liberty represents... liberty, freedom and enlightenment. Born to Dominican Republic immigrants, Charlie has gone on to not only achieve an American dream, but to also give back to those in need. His adorable Mother's nurturing took him through his tough times growing up in NY with a skin condition that causes hair loss. Charlie's gorgeous presence and attitude is both very inspiring and very endearing.
I initially wanted to interview Charlie so we could all learn about how he accomplished his amazing sports record, but after researching him further, I wanted to share his beautiful spirit. Please enjoy this inspiring interview with Charlie Villanueva.
Gabrielle Reilly: After receiving your first big contract with the NBA at the young age of 20, how did you remain focused and continue to improve yourself and advance your career?
Charlie Villanueva: That's a good question, because anyone at such a young age, receiving such a big income and being place on a national spotlight, can easily get lost or distracted with the wrong things in life. That's why it's important to keep people around you that have your best interest at heart, especially family. I'm really close with my family. My brothers live with me, and one of the older ones actually is my manager. Having people you can trust around you helps me stayed focus on the important things in my career. And more importantly, I think it's important to stay humble and put God first at all times, regardless of the situation.
Gabrielle Reilly: Compare and contrast your life in college to your life in the NBA.
Charlie Villanueva: The college game came a little easier to me because my only worries were school and basketball. Once you step into a professional level, such as the NBA League, everything changes. Now you have a thousand new responsibilities you never had like: connecting with your agent, dealing with financial advisor, paying a bookkeeper to pay your bills and having a legal consultant just in case. You now also become the caretaker and have to provide for your family and loves ones and all these new bills. You now have two bosses you report to (team coach and general manager), and you're booked for community and corporate appearances. The media could get tougher on you so you have to know how to handle them. And you're constantly flying out to a new city. You're doing so much more than what you used to in college. It could get overwhelming at times as rookie. But after a while, you just learn to get use to it and learn how to handle it. It helps to have good veterans on your team that are happy to show you the ropes.
Gabrielle Reilly: What mentors in your life had the greatest influence on your success and what methods did they use to help you achieve your success?
Charlie Villanueva: My mother had the greatest influence in me. I dealt with a lot as a kid growing up in the inner-city streets of Queens, NY. And on top of that, attending public school facing a skin condition that I had since around the age of 12 called Alopecia Areata, which resulted to hair loss, was no easy task. My mother was always there for me, through the bad and the worst. Seeing her be there for me, while dealing with her own single low-income mom challenges, it was inspiring for me to achieve my goals.
Gabrielle Reilly: My 12 year old son, Brandon, has been fortunate enough to attend several basketball camps with Bill Self, what an amazing guy. What do you think makes Bill Self achieve such amazing results?
Charlie Villanueva: When I was in high school, being recruited by many tops schools, I originally gave a verbal commitment to the University of Illinois. The reason I made that commitment was mainly because of Bill Self. He's a great person, and a heck of a coach. He tells it to you straight up, an honest man. I like that about him. Unfortunately things didn't work out when he resigned to attend the University of Kansas. At that point, I had to re-evaluate my options and felt that going to the University of Connecticut was the best thing for me. It was a good decision, since in my freshmen year we won the NCAA national championship. All things happen for good reason.
Brandon Reilly: Who is your role model and why?
Charlie Villanueva: My role model growing up was, and still is, former NBA All-Star Reggie Miller. He spent the entirety of his 18-year NBA career with the Indiana Pacers and was known for his precision three-point field goal shooting, especially in clutch situations. He was a NY Knicks killer, which was my hometown that I didn't like at the time, lol. Reggie is a true class-act with a more than respectable career. I look up to him and hope to come to close to any of his achievements.
Gabrielle Reilly: What recommendations would you give young people to achieve their goals and overcome negative influences?
Charlie Villanueva: The way our society is today, there's always going to be something negative to try to hold you back. You have to face reality and prepare yourself. Don't let anything stand in your ways from your goals. I always wanted to be a professional basketball player, it was my dream, and I didn't let anyone take that away. My slogan is "BELIEVE," one word. Because it starts with YOU, to believe in yourself, and strive to accomplish anything you put your mind into.
Gabrielle Reilly: What weight/cardio training do you do in a week?
Charlie Villanueva: The healthiest way to lose weight is through proper diet and exercise. Cardio exercise can be done in several different methods. I personally work out with the team's strength and conditioning trainer. We do all sort of stuff to help me with acceleration and speed around the court, range of shots, vertical jump power, and strengthening my core and balance. Exercises such as: abs workout, bench press, lat pull down, bar dips, squats, etc, are all helpful. We even do some karate at times. A very effective form of power training suited for basketball is called plyometrics.
Gabrielle Reilly: Do you ever have days when the last thing you want to do is step foot in a gym?
Charlie Villanueva: Of course, especially throughout the season, it can get exhausting having to play 82 games and travel constantly, on top of that you have practice and shoot-around, and everything else that comes with the league. But that's what makes us professionals. We train for this exactly during the off-season. We're prepare ourselves for this type of program. Even though at times it can be rough, but I love it and look forward to the challenges.
Gabrielle Reilly: What does your diet look like?
Charlie Villanueva: I'm actually not on any particular diet, I just try to eat healthy daily. I don't believe there are no bad foods, because really any food can be added into your diet in moderation. You should always try to reduce your intake of sugars and saturated fat. I like to eat plenty of fruits and whole grains.
Gabrielle Reilly: How much sleep do you need a night?
Charlie Villanueva: I sleep anywhere from 7-8 hours daily. You have to let your body rest. On game day, I always take at least a 1-2 hour nap right before I report to the gym.
Gabrielle Reilly: What do you do in your free time?
Charlie Villanueva: I spent most of my free time just hanging with the family. I also like to play video games and travel to the Dominican Republic. I do a lot of Internet surfing, hence my addiction to Twitter (@CV31), which you can follow me on http://www.twitter.com/CV31 .
Thank you guys.
Originally posted to Flickr as 20090930-5521 Keith Allison
Cropped from http://www.flickr.com/photos/compujeramey/2078800601/