MILWAUKEE - In a long interview with The Guardian, Milwaukee Bucks player Malcolm Brogdon said he had heard that Milwaukee was racist and segregated, even before he played basketball for the city's team.
"Before I came to Milwaukee, I’d heard the city was the most segregated in the country. I’d heard it was racist," Brogdon said.
But still, when the NBA star moved to the city to play for the Bucks, he experienced something new.
"When I got here, it was extremely segregated. I've never lived in a city this segregated," he said.
Brogdon grew up in Atlanta, where he said he encountered many racist situations in basketball and the classroom. He lived in the inner city and remembered playing basketball at a court not far from his backyard.
"We had crackheads, all types of users coming by the court. We befriended all of them. They would come play with us," Brogdon said. "My mom saw no danger. She thought it was a great environment for us to learn how to be with different people."
He went to college in Charlottesville, where he got his undergraduate degree in four years and his masters's after his fifth.
Brogdon's namesake is Malcolm X, but he gets his nickname, "The President," from former president Barack Obama. When asked about race in the city he now calls home, Brogdon said it needs to change, and it needs to change soon.
"Milwaukee's very behind in terms of being progressive. There are things that need to change rapidly," Brogdon said.
He added that he does have hope for change in the city and thinks the Bucks could be a part of it because of the team's progressive leaders.
“It’s amazing how sports is a way to control the masses, but it also unites people. When you have a team on the rise, with a player like Giannis (Antetokounmpo), it brings the city together," Brogdon said. "The owners, and (team president) Peter Feigin have trademarked the team as something the city can really get behind as a progressive unit.”
Brogdon and four other NBA players launched Hoop20, a non-profit to help people have access to clean water in Tanzania.