Today, Bookpleasures is privileged to have as our guest Charles “Choo” Smith author of “That’s Big” I Want to Have My Own Baseball Field.

Charles holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science from the University of the District of Columbia.

He is a former member of the world-renowned Original Harlem Globetrotters and he was an outstanding member of the team until 2001 when he sustained what some thought would be a career ending back injury. After he recovered he joined the Harlem Wizards where he played from 2001-2002 and then he played overseas in the Euro League with the Vienna Basket Hounds from 2002-2003.

Charles has played in all 50 States and in 26 countries. He was recognized as one of the greatest dribblers in the world.

Apart from his basketball career, Charles is the founder of Smith Youth Empowerment, a non-profit organization that focuses on his “4L” philosophy (Love it, Learn it, Live it, Lead it) and Choo Smith Enterprise, a for-profit corporation. From these organizations the Choo Smith Summer Basketball Camp was born. This camp became the platform for many initiatives under Choo Smith Youth Empowerment, Inc. Charles has the ability to reach children and youth right where they are in life.

He has been featured on local and national television networks like Fox News, NBC, ABC and Cornerstone Television. He has appeared on television shows like Good Fellas of Baltimore, a Fox reality show, and the new ABC Reality show Ball Boys.

Included among his humanitarian efforts include are: Basketball clinics conducted in Israel as part of a goodwill delegation of current and former NBA players with Sports Power Intern. He has even spoken personally to Shimon Peres, President of Israel.

Good day Charles and thanks for participating in our interview

Norm:

How did you derive the nickname “Choo?”

Charles:

When I was six years old my cousin started calling me “Choo Choo” because I was a fast runner. They said I reminded them of a Choo Choo train. It eventually got shortened to just ‘Choo”

Norm:

I notice you have worn and still wear many hats. What motivated you to write “That’s Big” I Want to Have My Own Baseball Field and could you tell our readers something about the book?

Charles:

Many years ago, as a young child, I always wanted to do something for the young people. As I look at myself 30 plus years later my experiences have made me the man that I am today. My past experiences have made me look beyond my situation and be innovative and creative. I understand that it is can be a motivating tool for children to dream big and not be distracted and know that they can do big things even through adversity. It teaches children that the can do big things even though they may have to overcome adversity.

Writing this book was just a motivation of strength, endurance and being able to elevate yourself. One of the unique things about the book is that is based around the hometown of Baltimore. It talks about the Baltimore Orioles and Memorial Stadium as well as one of my favorite players Eddie Murray. It has a number of life skills components, parental support, mathematics, and examples of how to deal with life challenges.

Norm:

What purpose do you believe your story serves and what matters to you about the story? As a follow up, what was one of the most surprising thing you learned in creating your book?

Charles:

The book serves a major purpose in terms of thinking outside the box. At an early age of seven years old I looked outside the box. I had a tremendous foundation from my parents who got me to think outside the box at an early age to believe that I could build a baseball field. Those tools help you in life, when people tell you that you cannot do something.

The surprising thing that I learned about writing this book is that I was able to write it in 2 hours in Barnes and Noble. Also 30 years later I was able to recount all of the details.

Norm:

What was the most difficult part of writing your book and what has been the best part about being published?

Charles:

Well to be honest, the most difficult part was the editing. I had a great team in Karyn Bullock and Andre Jones who helped edit the book and as far as the publishing we self-published the book in three months. It was a proud moment for us because we have never published a book before. I owe them a great deal for believing in the book, seeing the vision and bring it to life.

Norm:

How has your environment/upbringing colored your writing?

Charles:

My environment helped me to understand the grass roots aspect of life. Growing up where I did there was and still a lot of challenges that you are faced with from day to day, a lot of things that you see. I had great balance with my mom and pop, aunts, uncles and grandparents where they stressed the importance of education. It was major for my family because I was the first male to graduate from college. Being able to have that urban feel growing up and then being able to be well rounded by being exposed to all kinds of things in life due to my time traveling and playing with the Harlem Globetrotters. The time with the Globetrotters gave me a balance that allowed me to be open to write so I could allow people to feel the wholesomeness and core values of the story.

Norm:

What was it like to play basketball for the Original Harlem Globetrotters and how did it influence your subsequent careers?

Charles:

Major! Here I am a little guy (5’9 1/2 ft.) that only played one year of High School basketball and getting a chance to travel the world with the most famous team in the world. That was monumental within itself. I am just grateful to be able to have travel 40 countries and play in every state in the US and meet all kind of influential people.

That kind of exposure got me to see that I can translate the experiences it into business because I learned how they marketed, being ambassadors of goodwill and the entertainment value and being able to touch many people.

I felt that I could take that same concept and put it to work in the humanitarian and philanthropic aspect way of dealing with our community. That has helped me to have an open mind, just love my family and love the community. Give a business feel so that mediocrity is not the way we are to doing business. Making sure we striving to be the best we can be.

Norm:

What is Choo Smith Youth Empowerment about and what motivated you to start this organization?

Charles:

The Choo Smith Youth Empowerment is an organization that is trying to showcase all of the integral pieces in terms of uplifting young people, community and bridging the gap to have us be like minded in our approach to building up the kids, community and to have resources across the board to help elevate and help them to be competitive in this world.

Norm:

I notice you spoke to Shimon Peres, President of Israel. What was that all about?

Charles:

Wow! I went with a Christian organization and Jewish delegation to support the state of Israel along with some current and former NBA players. We went on a goodwill mission. This was probably the most important trip I have taken since retiring from professional basketball. I got to put on basketball clinics for the children and see the places where Jesus walked. I got to meet the President of Israel and he knew who I was and what I was doing. That experience was life changing. Being on the Gaza strip and seeing how the people had to deal with the daily threats made me really appreciate the freedoms and safety we have here in the US.

Norm:

How can readers find out more about you and your endeavors?

Charles:

They can visit my WEBSITES: CHOOSMITH.COM  and  CHOOYOUTH.COM

They can also contact my Publicist Karyn Bullock at 410-298-4503.

Norm:

What is next for Charles “Choo” Smith and as this interview draws to a close what one question would you have liked me to ask you? Please share your answer.

Charles:

Well, that’s a tough one. I guess the one question would be about my designation as the National Spokesperson for Rett Syndrome. My best friend and VP of Operations for Choo Smith Enterprise Alonzo Ray’s daughter Kaylee was diagnosed with this disorder last year.

Rett Syndrome is a disorder that affects primarily girls. It strikes all racial and ethnic groups, and occurs worldwide; a girl is born every two hours with Rett Syndrome. Symptoms appear after an early period of apparently normal development until six to eighteen months of life, when there is a slowing down or stagnation of skills, followed by loss of communication skills, loss of purposeful use of hands, loss or reduction of mobility.

I became involved because I wanted to bring awareness to this disorder so that more money can be raised for research for a cure or prevention. As of 2012 International Rett Syndrome Foundation has funding for two clinical trials. If your readers want to learn more about this disorder and maybe support the research they can visit the INTERNATIONAL RETT SYDROME FOUNDATION

Norm:

Thanks once again and good luck with all of your future endeavors