DJ Strawberry is used to people seeing Darryl Strawberry Jr. as his real name and doing double takes. “Not the true Darryl Strawberry?” They'll respond as if Darryl Strawberry, a 36-year old basketballer, could be a 60 year-old baseball legend.
It doesn't really bother him. As a professional basketball player and former NBA player the Zamalek shooting coach is familiar with the questions his father asks him about their relationship and the clearly different sports he chose.
Strawberry spoke to ESPN before the Basketball Africa League finals in Kigali (Rwanda) this month. He said: “When your parent is as famous as mine, you kind of get.” [used to it].
“I can travel through airport. A TSA guy will see my ID, and they'll tell me: “Oh Darryl Strawberry Junior?” I'm not Darryl Strawberry. I'll say, “Yeah, that's my dad,” and they'll reply, “Oh, he was a huge fan of mine!”
It is what it is. I believe I have done a good job in making myself known and letting people know my identity.
DJ, who was drafted by the Maryland State Police.He says that he was a better hooper than a baseball player in 2007 as a youngster. He chose basketball because he loved it and because he wanted to make his own path. This is a problem that famous parents often have to face.
He said that he thought he was better at basketball than baseball and added: “At that time, Kobe Bryant wasn't even coming up.” We were huge Lakers fans. My entire family was Lakers fan, so we got into basketball a bit more.
“I think” [watching Darryl Sr. play baseball]I was more drawn to basketball because of that. Growing up, I was familiar with all that is baseball. Basketball was something completely new to me.
MLB fans know that Darryl Sr. was a Mets and Yankees legend.For a long time at the end his career, which translated into a difficult time for DJ, who was just a teenager at that time.
When his father was serving time for solicitation of prostitute and violating probation, a 17 year-old DJ entered jail.: “My mom will always make a joke about me dad. Or, “You don’t want to be like him, do your?” Or, “You want to live in prison with him?”
It just makes me want to be less like him. It's not something to be serious about, it's just something we joke about.
Twenty years later, DJ says his comments were misinterpreted to be hostility toward his father. He was actually merely stating that he wanted to live life his way.
Strawberry answered a question about whether he and father have a positive relationship. He said: “Me and dad, any problems he had were my problems.”
“You don't know what someone is going through at any given moment. He's still my father at the end of it all. It was a wonderful relationship and never ended.
“People were wrong to see it when I was younger. I told them that I didn’t want the same fate as him. It was more than that I didn’t want to follow the same path as him. I wanted to forge my own path.
“I think that I did a decent job at that, but at same time, that's still me dad. No matter what he had to go through, he survived. To this day, I love him.”
Parenthood is always a complicated and difficult task. This can be made more difficult when there is a tendency towards generational conflict. DJ now has his own children and is mindful of his father's mistakes. He also recognizes the influence of Darryl Sr.
The 36-year old has ended a generational curse. He was a witness to his father's relationship with his grandfather and wanted to improve the father-son relationship in the family.
He stated that everyone goes through their trials. While I don’t know all the details, I do know that he had a difficult relationship to his father, which they eventually reconciled.
“It was a burden that I didn't want on me, of me and my dad not getting along and trying reconciliation at the end.
“Whatever he did, I know he loved me. I also know that he didn’t intentionally hurt me or any of my siblings. He was experiencing exactly what he was experiencing.
“Everyone lives their own life.” As you get older, you realize that you are responsible for your own life.
DJ's philosophy of each person living their own life is something he has passed on to his children. DJ states that while his son is able to play baseball as his granddad, DJ allows him to make changes or stop playing sports altogether.
“My older child plays baseball. He's following his dad's lead. DJ said, “He gets some training from one if the greats, he's pretty talented, so we're going to watch out for the next Strawberry coming in baseball,”
“I support the children in whatever they choose and make time for them. It shows that I care about them more than anything. I don't care what he does in sports. [My support goes for]Whatever he does, so long as he puts his best effort.
“I am not going to force my children to play basketball. Basketball was my choice, and baseball his. Everyone is proud of their lives. “Really, he can do whatever he likes — whatever he is passionate about — I support him 100%.”
He also spoke of their supporting him in return: “My children's happiness is my greatest joy. They are my world and I love them. They enjoy watching me play and watching me on TV. We hope they will enjoy it. [BAL playoff]Games don't have to be played so my younger kids can watch a bit of the games.
Strawberry's basketball journey has taken him all over the world since his season with the Suns. From Italy to Lithuania to Israel to Spain to Spain to Italy to Lithuania to Spain to Spain, Strawberry now plays for Egypt's most important club, having signed on in January to help them defend their BAL title.
Zamalek will face Seydou Legacy Athlétique Club (SLAC) in the fourth quarterfinal on Sunday at Kigali Arena at 18:00 CAT [12 noon ET, 9am PT]. The White Knights are the favourites to win this title. They have won all five Nile Conference games at home in Cairo.
DJ said that they don't take anything for granted. “Everybody expects” them to win the tournament again. People expect you to win another tournament if you win one time and are crowned champions the next time.
“Now, teams will be coming after us, because we're defending champs. There are no surprises.”
The BAL airs in Africa on ESPN, while the US broadcasts it on ESPN+ and ESPNEWS.