The satisfaction of giving back and defying the odds has not been limited to basketball for former Sacramento Kings’ point guard Eugene “Pooh” Jeter III. The 5-foot-11-inch professional basketball player from Gardena, Calif. has always been challenged by his family to think about his passions beyond the court. Both his grandfather and father passed down the legacy of working as successful entrepreneurs.
Eugene Jeter Sr., Jeter’s grandfather owned a barbershop in Detroit and had his hands in real estate, while his father Eugene Jeter II owned Hey Love Records and Videos, a record store that was in Inglewood for 25 years. His older sister, Carmelita Jeter is a track and field Olympic gold medalist and World Champion.
In 2015, while Jeter was playing in China, he returned home and sat in a barbershop with one of his closest friends turned business partner, James “JB” Booker. Inspired by his family to figure out how else he could move the culture forward, Jeter thought about his love of exclusive shoes and apparel.
“I’ve been playing in China and I’ve been coming back home with exclusive kicks that nobody has, that don’t come out for three or four months,” Jeter stated. “Everybody wants to be the first person to wear something that no one else has.”
With that in mind, Jeter opened a premiere shoe and clothing boutique called Laced. (Los Angeles Creates Endless Dreams) in Lawndale that celebrates its three-year anniversary this year.
“We’re able to showcase that you can still be fly in the South Bay, you don’t have to go to Melrose,” said the Gardena native.
In Jeter’s wildest dreams, he would have never thought that his store would be the only Black-owned shoe and clothing boutique to secure a Nike account. With the whirlwind success of the store, Laced. has now become a platform to highlight other Los Angeles based Black-owned businesses by regularly partnering with companies to host events, pop-up shops, and food trucks. It is run as a family business. The day-to-day operations are handled by Jeter’s business partner Booker, his father and cousin, who is the store’s manager all while Jeter plays overseas.
Jeter realized his dream of playing basketball at the highest level after going undrafted in 2006. He signed his first NBA contract with the Sacramento Kings in 2010 despite being considered undersized for a position in the NBA.
“My grind in the basketball game being that I was under six feet, I never believed in other people’s opinions,” Jeter stated. “I grew so much as a person playing basketball that it prepared me for anything.”
Jeter is now in his 13th season playing basketball professionally. He has played in multiple top leagues and is currently under contract in China. Among his many accomplishments, Jeter obtained dual-citizenship in Ukraine where he plays with the Ukrainian national team.
This past summer, while addressing former NBA star Paul Pierce’s AAU team, Jeter was asked by one of the kids why there are not more professional players visible in the community.
“That hit home with me because I still remember going to Byron Scott’s camp when I was eight or nine years old,” Jeter recalled.
Inspired by the kids’ question, Jeter partnered with his longtime friend and NBA free agent Bobby Brown, along with renowned basketball skills trainer Rico Hines to host an invitation-only basketball clinic for 60 of the top middle school, high school and college boys’ and girls’ players.
“NBA players like Baron Davis and Jason Hart took me under their wing and let me know if I can do it, you can do it,” emphasized Jeter, who is an alumnus of Junipero Serra High School. “With that same approach, the main thing with the youth is that we as pros have to come together to give information to the ones who are up next.”
The former University of Portland star reached out to an extensive list of current and former professional basketball players to make a guest appearance at the clinic. Among those who participated were NBA All-Stars, Chris Paul and DeMar DeRozan, Warriors’ Jordan Bell, Clippers’ Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and former NBA player Andre Miller.
The clinic, which will be held annually, was designed to share basketball insight as well as provide youth with tools to be implemented in their everyday lives. The vast majority of the players who were largely from Los Angeles addressed clinic-goers from a common thread.
“Growing up in L.A., we were all affiliated with a different hood, but we made it out though,” shared Jeter. “We can share our experiences, our mistakes, so the ones coming behind us do not have to make the same mistakes.”
In the offseason when Jeter is not spending time with his wife Chyvonne and two sons, Eugene Jeter IV and Ethan Jeter, he is at Laced. learning the ins and outs of his venture. Whether it is on or off the court, Jeter continues to uplift communities through his passions in line with the teachings and legacies of his father and grandfather.