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From the NBA to ‘Rehabbin’ R&B’

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After his season prematurely ended with the Los Angeles Clippers, reserve guard Kareem Rush has entered the music scene with anything but a premature sound.

Making his original claim to NBA fame in 2002 playing for the Los Angeles Lakers, Rush comes from a family that has played in both the NCAA and NBA. His older brother, JaRon, played college basketball for UCLA. Rush’s younger brother, Brandon, is following in his footsteps and is currently a guard for the Indiana Pacers. Kareem Rush was also a guard for the Pacers during the 2007-’08 season.

“My brother JaRon was the No. 1 player in the country,” said Rush, “So I had big shoes to fill.”

Cutting his 2009 season with the Los Angeles Clippers short on a Tuesday night against the New Orleans Hornets after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), Rush decided to rehab his knee in a different way.

Rush says he knew that tearing his ACL was not a career ending injury, but that it would be a long process, at least six months, so he had time to start his second career – music.

“Singing has always been a part of my life, and I knew I could carry a tune,” said Rush. “The surprising part was how well (my music) was received.”

With musical inspirations such as Maxwell, Musiq Soulchild, Boyz II Men, Michael Bublé and Jodeci, Rush’s smooth R&B sound didn’t come as a surprise to most.

Rush’s love for music was nothing new. “For as long as I can remember, I’ve been able to pick up a song within two or three times of hearing it,” Rush said.

On his debut album, “Rehabbin’ R&B,” Rush explains the album title as something he and his partners came up with. He is going through rehab on his knee and entering the R&B scene, so Rehabbin’ R&B was more than an applicable title.

However, Rush’s sound on his CD, like his drive to the basket, is very direct. On his song “Hold You Down (Promises)” Rush sings about a girl that has been mistreated in the past, but if she comes with him he promises to hold her down and not leave her.

“I’m here to offer you a better start baby, I ain’t never gonna desert you, no shawty I swear by me, look me dead in the face when I say that, right here my side is where you’re safe at, baby it’s your world,” are among the lyrics on Rush’s debut album.

To offset the smooth, mellow sound that masks the album, a track titled “Missouri” shows the sensitive side of Rush. Missouri is a song that not only pays homage to his hometown Kansas City, but to his family and friends who he thanks.

“(The) song really just pays homage to my mother and grandmother for making me the man that I am today,” explains Rush. “I wrote the second verse on this track, too, and it was my first time writing, so it’s a very heartfelt song.”

Rush not only entered the music scene as a new artist, he also started his own record label called Big Rush Entertainment. He looked to those around him, especially partner, producer and vocalist Mechalie Jamison, to help guide him through his entrance into the singing and production parts of the music industry.

“Kareem has that throwback sound to his voice,” said Jamison. “He sings with a great melody and kind of reminds me of Shawn from Boys II Men.”

Jamison, having been introduced to Rush while at a basketball game, where she went intending to speak to L.A. Laker forward Lamar Odom, took Rush into the studio and liked what he heard. Working for Bad Boy Entertainment for more than 10 years, Jamison is no stranger to smooth, R&B sounds and great musical talent.

“Of course there’s a method to his (Rush) madness, but our goal is to use music for what it’s worth; bring the real R&B back,” said Jamison.

Before it’s all said and done, Rush wants to work with the best. From producers and songwriters such as Mario Winans, who produced Rush’s song “Put You to Sleep,” to Robin Thicke and Maxwell, Rush plans on recruiting the best for his R&B team.

Rush is going to return to the NBA this coming season, but will continue working on his music and a host of other ideas that he has in mind.

“I’m going to be the first current NBA player (to) play basketball and have a music career going,” said Rush.

Finding their niche

Kareem Rush is not the first athlete turned musician. A host of other basketball and football players have tried their hand at music as well.

Miami Heat center Shaquille O’Neal entered the music scene in 1993 as a rapper. Since then he has released five albums and one compilation album.

Previous NFL cornerback Deion Sanders released his debut rap album in 1994 titled “Prime Time.” Guard Allen Iverson attempted to release his CD titled “Jewelz” but the album leaked before its release date.

Also, former Indiana Pacer Ron Artest entered the music scene as a rapper with his debut CD titled “My World” in 2006.

Kareem Rush on the home front

High School: Pembroke High School, Kansas City, Mo.

College: University of Missouri-Columbia

2002 NBA Draft: Toronto Raptors, immediately traded to Los Angeles Lakers

2004-2005: Charlotte Bobcats

2005-2006: Seattle Supersonics

*In the latter part of 2006, Rush played overseas in Lithuania, where he was named MVP of the league.

2007-2008: Indiana Pacers

2008-2009: Philadelphia 76ers

2009-2010: Los Angeles Clippers

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