We had the good fortune of connecting with Kumase “Mas” DeMesma and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kumase “Mas”, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
I believe if you don’t take risks, you won’t be highly rewarded. You just have to be smart about which risks you are willing to take. If you take the time to envision the possibilities of taking certain risks, I believe that makes it easier to make good decisions depending on the possible outcomes. The risks I’ve taken have played a huge part in my career. When I decided to play basketball for Narbonne High School, I took a risk on playing for a program that had no championship pedigree. By my senior year, my teammates and I made Narbonne a respectable program again with a LA CITY D2 Championship. Risking playing for small colleges could have ruined my career, but instead it helped introduced me to people who helped get me to play basketball overseas in Germany. In Europe, I built relationships with great people and learned how to work with children through our basketball camps, also learning how different kids learn differently than others. Even when I chose to be out and was seen with tough crowds in Compton, CA. That risk allowed me to stay true and authentic when it comes to doing things for our city. Being out in Compton as a black man is dangerous. I could have been labeled a thug by gangs or law enforcement, which sometimes still happens to this day. But it was a risk I was willing to take to really feel like I was a part of my home. I thank God that risk never cost me my life. Now when giving back to kids who grew up just like my peers and I, I’m able to help and it comes from a genuine place and the people I help love me for it. I take everything I’ve learned in my life and now I am able to be effective in many different areas. As a community leader, teacher and coach. I’m confident I will be great in any situation or scenario.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’m a basketball coach and trainer. I can’t really say what separates me from other coaches and trainers. I just know I care about all my kids that are under me. I was blessed to play college and little bit of pro. So as far as basketball, I want the kids I coach or train to have some of the experiences I had playing and traveling. I encourage them to strive for that if not better. The thing that I’m most proud or excited about when it comes to coaching is seeing the kids growth. Although I focus on basketball, I still try to teach them about life. I truly believe the sport teaches you more about life than how you can make it to the NBA. I just want to help my kids prepare for some of the challenges they’ll face as they get older. Having great mentors helped me get into coaching. I started coaching in college under my assistant coach with his youth club teams. When I finished playing professionally, my high school coach opened the door for me to assist him at my alma mater. I’ve truly been blessed to be around some brilliant people. Nothing in life is easy. I’ve had challenges just like I had playing the game. Some kids have attitudes or I may have to deal with an angry parent. I used those challenges to get better. I learn from them and try to use them as motivation to be better the next day. There are good and bad days. However, everybody knows I have all my kids best interest at heart. I try to be as honest I can be while still considering everybody’s feelings and I do my best to help my kids the best way I know how. Either way, I love what I do and nobody I came across has any bad blood towards me to my knowledge. I’ve learned that you have to love what you do and embrace all that comes with it. I love the game of basketball. Always have. My favorite NBA players were Allen Iverson and Kobe Bryant (R.I.P). They faced challenges publicly that helped look at mine and decide how I want to go about them. One of my favorite rappers Nipsey Hussle (R.I.P) says in a song, “I don’t stress out, I poke my chest out. Weight on my shoulders bring the best out.” I truly believe our challenges and how we deal with them define us. I like to think my challenges make me great. What I want the world to take from my story is to remember that life comes with a series of problems and opportunities you won’t expect. However, you can’t let that get you off track. Learn from those issues and let your light continue to shine. My step dad use to tell me, “Don’t be afraid to be great.” For anyone this reaches, I want to extend our mantra to you. Be great!
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
It’s hard to say right now due to COVID. Hopefully a lot more opens up soon. Los Angeles has a lot you can do. You definitely would want to go to an amusement park. Six Flags, Knott’s Berry Farm, Universal Studios or Disneyland. If live sports allowed fans you’d definitely want to experience a Lakers or Dodgers game with real Los Angeles fans. We have professional soccer and football teams depending on what you like. As far as food, I like burger stands or small restaurants. I like to support my friends at Trap Kitchen. I eat Orleans and York and also Compton’s most famous, Tam’s Burger. If you want something a little more upscale then you will like Ruth Chris Steak House, Javier’s or Berri’s. Other places you’d want to hangout at would be the Santa Monica Pier, Venice Beach or the Pike in Long Beach. If you’re a party animal there are plenty bars and clubs. Just depends on your preference. I also recommend places like the California African American Museum if you’re more into educational outings. Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I would like to shoutout DGW Life first. They helped me fundraise and collect donations to be able to give back to my community. We’ve done backpack giveaways, toy drives, Thanksgiving food drives and fed the homeless. They are good people and I can’t thank their CEO Maureen Clark and the organization for their hand in helping me bless my community. My parents also deserve a lot of credit. My dad and step father taught me how to be a man. How to be respectful and demand it at the same time. They were great family men who also coached me in basketball at different times in my life and also knew how to provide for our homes. My mom couldn’t have chose better men to be a part of my life. While I’m at it, I have to shout out my mom. She was tough and demanded nothing but greatness out of me. She was the reason I graduated college and why I love giving back. For as long as I can remember she’s been giving back with her sorority Delta Sigma Theta Inc. She also encouraged me to join the Drew League Foundation that her and my step father have been members of for several years. Now I have more opportunities to give back and serve on a board with some other great individuals. So shout out to Wendall DeMesma, Marty Walzer (R.I.P.) and Cherona DeMesma-Walzer. I love and appreciate you guys. I thank God for trusting you guys with my upbringing.