Basketball legend John Salley opens up about becoming vegan and his new Disney movie

John Salley, four-time NBA champion is a true renaissanceman. He is the kind of person you would want to be if you were smart, intelligent, charming, intellectually curious, and could access millions of dollars and have the experience to make smart business investments. He is also a vegan chef, restaurateur and philanthropist. He is also a health coach, a father to three daughters, an actor, TV host, tech freak (we’ll discuss that), and he owns a cannabis business with Tyla Salley, his daughter, 25. Did I mention that he was charming?

We Zoom’d Salley to talk about his busy life, pursuits, and waiting patiently for his wife, Natasha Duffy to finish her appointment with her ophthalmologist. Salley isn’t your average celebrity.

Upworthy: What initially attracted you to becoming vegan?

John Salley: John Salley was my mother’s kosher caterer growing up in Brooklyn. She formed a group of South Carolina residents and started a farm in her backyard. They grew cabbage, cucumbers okra, collard greens and peppers. I was there as a kid. I was a vegetable-loving child. My favorite treat was cucumber and ice-tea. In 1992, my cholesterol was 271 There were also guys on the team [Miami Heat]They were 12 years younger and had lower cholesterol than mine. They wanted me to take a pill that had an side effect of erectile disfunction. So I said there had to be a better method. I went to the doctor and had my first colonic. I lost 30 pounds. I then started macrobiotics. I was able to jump higher. I felt happier. My libido went through the roof, and my cholesterol was no where to be found. I have never eaten any oil. I only eat algal oil and I saute vegetables in water, onions, garlic, and other ingredients.

UP: What are other keys to staying healthy and strong?

JS: Walk for 45 minutes per day. Stretching. I add trace minerals to my water and one teaspoon baking soda to it. I drink 12-16 ounces of water each morning. When I get up, I try to not moan.

UP: What made you want to get into the cannabis business and why?

JS: It was the wild wild west. The fact that so many people were locked up because of a weed they had was a sign that this was a problem. They aren’t growing weed in their hood. They don’t own machine guns. They don’t make heroin and cocaine in the hood. But, now there were going be people making billions from the weed industry and it was open. I’m the first NBA basketball player to get involved in the cannabis industry. The NBA didn’t hire my for any other appearances and I was okay with that. I was accepted. [to cannabis]Because I could become an entrepreneur. I wasn’t grandfathered. But it’s not equal. They will give you a license but if you grow, the landlord won’t rent to you. They continue to redline as many Black people as they can. I didn’t want to work in another industry that kept my people out. I saw that the future was female. At 19 years old, Deuces 22 was founded by my daughter. We wanted to make a difference. We want to de-stigmatize the cannabis industry and emphasize the science behind it. This is good news for the entire sector. We also have a reality TV program. I also film everything Tyla does to show the world what Tyla is up to.

UP: Tell us about your interest in IKIN (the San Diego-based Hologram Technology Company).

JS: I was shocked at what they were doing, and I heard Joe Ward, the CEO and founder, so I texted my partner to tell him to move everything to the side. We are in! I’m a techie. Georgia Tech is where I studied engineering because it’s what I love. I drive a Tesla not because it’s cool but because it is the future. My friend was the first to tell me about the hologram when I saw it. [actor]Will Smith. These guys know how to bend light, I said. You can bend light to bend time. You can see the future if you can bend time. The IKIN team is making all these things a reality.

* According to IKIN,the technology turns all smart phone content into 3D experiences, including games, video, photos, driving directions, social media, etc. It makes it a more immersive experience.

UP: Discuss your upcoming Disney film “Sneakerella.”

JS: I’m a huge film buff. One of my favourite movies is “West Side Story.”I know every word. I was thrilled to be in a Disney musical musical. I love that the director. [Elizabeth Allen Rosenbaum]I was able to try many different takes because he was an editor. Seriously, I was with Denzel Washington. [Chosen Jacobs]Angela Bassett.[Lexi Underwood]I told them. I get to play this role, which is a lot like mine. He has children, and I have children. When people ask me why I don’t have sons, they say that I don’t have enough time for dummies.”But seriously, this movie was one of my favorite things.

UP: Who was your best coach and why?

JS He began working with me when I was 12. He started working with me at 12. He became vegan five years ago. Chuck Daly was my first and favorite NBA coach. He was always kind to me. I would also like to mention Barney Davis, Joe Reynolds, Phil Jackson, and Joe Reynolds, who taught me the basics. He didn’t allow my to continue with Lakers, but he allowed me two feet into entertainment. He told me that he didn’t have any real estate to allow me to return to the Lakers in June, and in September I had my own talk show on BET. According to the Dalai Lama: “Sometimes not getting what you want is an unbelievable stroke of good luck.”

UP: Do you want to meet the Dalai Lama,

JS. I have always been fascinated by India. So when a friend offered me to do a documentary in India, I said, “When are we going?” I experienced the most terrifying five-hour ride up to Dharamsala. Although I can understand that this is a huge undertaking, I have been to championships so I am familiar with the pressure. You finally reach the palace. When you reach the first floor, people are staring at and bowing to you. Then you move on to the second level. You’ll see them again looking at you and whispering. They’re testing your energy. You’ll see one man at the third level. He will tell you not to touch him [Dalai Lama]Be respectful and don’t push him. Then he walks in, and everyone bows. I look at him, and he says, “You’ve got a very beautiful smile.” I reply, “I was thinking exactly the same thing.” He asks me to come sit down with him. He says you’ve got two questions. So, I ask him to sign my shirt. He does this in Tibetan. Then, I asked him: “How did you know that you were the one?” He said, “How did I know you were the right one?” I replied, “When I was 12 years old I knew I would be a pro and it all came out of nowhere.” He said that he felt the same feeling when was 6 years old. It was the same feeling I had when I jumped from a plane and when I met him. He was extremely human.

UP: Who do YOU think are the 5 greatest NBA players? Why?

JS: They should not be judged by years. Michael Jordan was the greatest in the 90s. Kobe Bryant was the best player in the 2000s. LeBron is now the best after 2010. Kevin Durant, the best 2017 is here. Wilt Chamberlain is the greatest big man, and Magic and Bird are two of the most influential people in sports.

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