093_Pistons16YB.p1

2016-17 Detroit Pistons Yearbook

Detroit Pistons 2016–17 Yearbook 93 Flinty and radiating tough conviction, Cameron embodied the virtues of the Nanny state. She, too, became a nurse, and left Jamaica in 1989 to join relatives in Mount Vernon, a gritty New York city that borders the Bronx. Four years later she gave birth to a 12-pound, six-ounce boy. “Papa was so big that he looked like he was three months old,” she says. “Basically,” he says. “I was a crawling 12-pound dumbbell.” The neighborhood in which Christine, Andre and his kid sister Ariana lived was an urban patchwork of public housing, storefront churches and 99-cent stores. Crime was a source of constant concern. Cameron kept Drummond under lock and key. Literally. “I was always firm and strict with him,” she says. “He had no friends in New York because I kept him indoors. I didn’t let him out.” When Drummond was in second grade, his aunts and uncles left Mount Vernon for Middletown, Conn., a suburb of Hartford. As summer approached, Christine asked him if he would rather spend his vacation with his cousins or move to Middletown permanently. “Let’s get out of here, Mom,” he said, without hesitation. So they packed up and went. Cameron taught her son to add and subtract with stones he gathered in their Middletown yard. The youngster honed his game in the town’s parks and schoolyards. Not that he actually had one. “He was never good,” says Cameron. “He was big and tall and totally uncoordinated.” Comedy Hour was her name for his games, rolling carnivals of pratfalls, air balls and tangled feet. “The ball would be going one way and Andre the other.” While Cameron sat in the stands and laughed, other parents screamed, “Pick another sport, kid.” Cut from his middle school team, the seventh grader cried on the bus ride home. Demoralized, he asked Mom for advice. On a hunch that he might grow into his body, she sent him to the Middletown YMCA, where he played pickup from sunup to sundown. “I gained access to a gym,” Drummond says, “and my feet finally began to cooperate with me,” The Y helped turn his boundless potential into something tangible. Two years ago he and his mom repaid the favor in part by establishing a scholarship fund that gives YMCA memberships to low-income students. Cameron says, “When you grow up, people help you out along the way. It’s only fitting that when you’re in a position to help, you give back.” Cameron helped derail her son’s football career before it even started. “In ninth grade he wanted to play, but I thought the sport was too dangerous.” She and the coach came to an understanding: Andre could practice but couldn’t compete against other schools. He’d enter games only to get yanked a few minutes later. Asked what position he played, Drummond would say, “Left bench.” As a junior, Drummond transferred to tiny St. Thomas More in Oakdale. He played for Jere Quinn, the storied prep coach who, along with Jim Calhoun, became a surrogate father. “People kept telling me that my son would make it to the NBA,” says Cameron, who visited the campus several times a week to wash his clothes and fix him dinner. “I never believed them. I just wanted him to perform well in school.” Drummond excelled in the structured educational environment, maintaining a 3.6 G.P.A. and making honor roll after honor roll. “He did especially well at math,” Cameron exults. Must have been the stones. Drummond’s otherworldly athleticism flowered at the boarding school, where over two years he won 55 games and the 2011 national prep championship, for which he was named MVP. He was heavily courted by pretty much every major college program in the country. “My only rule for picking a college was that he couldn’t go too far,” Cameron says. Too far meant anywhere she couldn’t drive to. “UConn was near home, which was perfect. I needed to keep an eye on him.” She still does. She lives close by. She attends every home game and the occasional road game. In the midst of Drummond’s rookie campaign, she even offered lessons on free-throw shooting. The day after a game in which he air-balled consecutive foul shots, Cameron phoned him at dawn and said, “Meet me in the gym, Papa.” The ever-accommodating Drummond complied. “Watching Mom show me how to properly make a free-throw was the most hysterical thing I’ve ever witnessed,” Drummond says. “I thought I was terrible: she’s worse.” That hasn’t stopped her from dispensing maternal wisdom. When not babysitting Roscoe, Drummond’s beloved Maltese, Cameron often can be found giving her son grooming tips. His notoriously hairy shoulders rub her the wrong way. “But Mom,” he’ll protest, “my shoulder hair is the talk of the NBA.” “Someone’s got to shave it off,” she’ll say in a tone of maternal concern. “And until you find yourself a wife, that someone will be me.”


2016-17 Detroit Pistons Yearbook
To see the actual publication please follow the link above