Last week, the City of Inglewood held a press conference at the Fabulous Forum to officially welcome home the one of Inglewood’s favorite sons, Paul Pierce, in front of an audience of close family, friends, and media. The event solidified the return of Pierce to his roots, and added another notch in the ever-stretching belt of notches the City of Inglewood has been tallying up over the last 4 years.
The ceremony was lead by renowned sports broadcaster Fred Roggin, who welcomed Paul’s family back to Inglewood by joking with Paul’s dear mother. “The thing about Mom, if you want me to be really honest with you, although Paul had a great deal of success playing for another team on another coast, Mom was pretty pissed about that.” The audience burst into laughter as he finished, “Mom wants her boy home, and it’s good he is.”
Before Pierce blossomed into the superstar and soon to be hall-of-famer that he is, a story from close friend and former teammate, Jason Crowe, paints Pierce as a nervous kid anxiously waiting to learn whether he had made his varsity high school team. When Crowe, a year older than Pierce and the son of the Inglewood High principal, arrived at school at 6:45 a.m., Pierce was the only person on campus and was already scanning a list of final cuts posted outside a physical education office.
"I don't know if he wanted to be the first person to check the list because he thought it was going to change," joked Crowe, who went on to play professionally overseas, "but he was there and he was on the list. As kids are coming to campus," Crowe said, "Paul is going up to them saying, 'Hey, let's go check the list, man. I don't think I made it, man. You probably made it, though.'" Paul had his own way of celebrating.
Lieutenant Scott Collins of the Inglewood Police Department, and one of Pierce's high school coaches and mentors, recalled driving home past the school gym and seeing the lights on. When stopped to check it out, he found Pierce and Crowe battling it out in full court one-on-one games.
The Inglewood High School Marching Band, under the direction of Dr. Conrad Hutchinson III, played a number of soulful tunes for Pierce on the concert floor of the Forum. Pierce wasn’t hesitant to jump in the middle of the jubilant bandsmen to pose for a group photo with a huge “INGLEWOOD!!!” shout out.
Mayor James Butts took the opportunity to present Paul with a Varsity Letterman’s jacket that highlights his career from high school to the Los Angeles Clippers, and is branded with Inglewood’s City seal.
Humbled, Pierce took the time to thank everyone for their overwhelming support over the years and said, “"I'm just happy to be able to finish off my career in front of the people who love me the most and were watching me grow to who I am today," Pierce said. "That's going to be a special feeling."