Jeremy Lamb is a professional basketball player from the Atlanta area who played for the Charlotte Hornets for the past four seasons.
The team’s salary restrictions prevented them from re-signing Lamb in the offseason, and while the trade of Kemba Walker gained much of the media’s attention, Lamb will be sorely missed at the Spectrum Center this season. He will soon move to Indiana for the season, where he’ll start with his new team, the Indianapolis Pacers.
When we approached Lamb about a potential farewell dinner at his favorite eatery in Charlotte, he decided it would be better to hit Eddie’s Place for a brunch, where he’s a big fan of the man-mosas.
We spent the day with Lamb in Cotswold to reflect on his time spent in Charlotte, his childhood and what matters most to him and his family.
10:00 A.M. It’s already getting hot outside as my wife pulls up and into the parking lot of Eddie’s Place in Cotswold. A tall, good-looking young black man walks next to a petite blonde pushing a stroller. I recognize Jeremy Lamb immediately.
Our ladies greet each other and embrace in the doorway. Jeremy’s brother, Zach Lamb, stands beside Jeremy, and slightly over me. Taking off my sunglasses, I follow our server to an open booth near the front window. We quickly get past niceties and order drinks. I follow the brothers’ lead by ordering a “man-mosa,” which I’ll get to in a minute. In fact, I’ll get into several.
10:05 A.M. We bond over serial ordering. Zach’s breakfast of grilled shrimp, steak and eggs is a regular order of his at this longtime neighborhood restaurant (anybody remember Danny?). I have a few standards here but end up with the ciabatta French toast, it being too early for she crab soup.
10:07 A.M. Our man-mosas arrive.
Bartender Ben: “A man-mosa? It’s Tito’s vodka, cointreau, orange juice on ice, served with a small bottle of sparkling wine.”
Jeremy’s girlfriend, Hali, says of Jeremy: “He orders the same thing every time.”
I inquire about some of the couple’s favorite spots in Charlotte. They mention Essex Bar & Bistro in Uptown, where they usually order two sushi rolls with chicken, no avocado, no pecans and an extra side of spicy mayo — lamb chops as an appetizer.
“He would eat three meals at one sitting,” Hali says of Jeremy.
Jeremy defends his need for more than lamb chops. “Those things are small!”
Nobody mentions the irony of the order in relation to the last name, so I don’t bring it up.
The couple describes their perfect culinary evening in Charlotte: Ruth’s Chris Steak House in Uptown, sipping on wine, eating steaks and sharing sides.
The Cellar at Duckworth’s is another favorite. Before one of the couple’s first dates, Jeremy told Hali to dress up — a request she questioned when they walked into the sports bar and grill on the first floor.
“Yo, she was mad,” Jeremy recalls.
After popping down the stairs into the Cellar at Duckworth’s, Jeremy and Hali found a spot that would soon be their favorite.
“Everyone knows our order there,” says Hali.
“Tomahawk ribeye, Brussels sprouts, truffle fries,” Jeremy calls out as if reading the menu.
10:15 A.M. As we eat our breakfast, the conversation slips to candy.
“He’s a candy guy,” said Hali. “Trolli’s. Basically anything gummy and sour.”
The German company recently sent Jeremy a box of assorted candies. He didn’t know what to do with all of it and decided to bring the whole stash to Gerald Henderson’s basketball camp.
He walked in and poured it all on the table — gummy worms, gummy bears, gummy octopus (yes, that’s a thing), and the kids went crazy, Jeremy says.
He describes a similar time in Oklahoma City, where he was traded in 2012 and played the first few years of his NBA career, when he and Zach would buy all the candy at a local convenience store. Once word got out about their regular trips, kids would line up outside, according to Zach.
“It got to the point where kids would take pictures with us. They’d be waiting out there with their mom,” says Zach.
10:20 A.M. Zach and Jeremy talk over one another, brought back to childhood with stories of “Miss Shelly,” their next door neighbor growing up who would show up unannounced with groceries for the Lamb family from time to time.
On one occasion she brought them by the truckload — literally.
“They had a pickup truck, right,” Jeremy recalls, “and they backed into our driveway full of food — blueberry muffins, fruit snacks, chicken, steak, veggies, everything.”
Why did Mrs. Shelly buy all that food for the Lambs?
The same reason Jeremy bought all of that candy for the neighborhood kids.
“No reason at all.”
10:30 A.M. Despite his basketball move, Jeremy says he’s not going anywhere when it comes to his offseason life. Jeremy and Hali just built a house in the Foxcroft neighborhood with plenty of room for their baby daughter, Halo. Zach and Jeremy’s mother lives in Charlotte and will remain here after Jeremy’s move, along with Zach.
For Jeremy and Hali, Charlotte is the perfect midway point between their respective families in Atlanta and West Virginia.
“I wanted everyone to stay here because this is home base,” Jeremy says, looking at Hali. “It’s perfect. Now, we got a baby. I think it’s going to be great having my new family established.”
11:07 A.M. By this point, one of Jeremy’s neighbors has replaced Hali at the table.
Jeremy gets heated about losing a game of beer pong last night. He can’t stop thinking about “the kid in the white hat” that was cleaning up all night.
“I never seen him miss,” Jeremy says. “Last night, he says to me, ‘Yo, Imma finish this.’ I’m like, ‘This man’s real confident.’ When it went in, I felt my heart just go. He just looked at me.”
11:45 A.M. Jeremy’s not the only competitive one in the family. Zach was a promising collegiate player at California State University, Bakersfield.
Before then, he and Jeremy were a force, playing neighborhood two-on-two games in Atlanta. Zach, the younger brother by sixteen months but the leader on the court, would support Jeremy, the scorer.
Sidelined by an injury at CSU-B, Zach is now getting his photography business going. That same support he provided his brother on the court years ago has come back to swing in the other direction.
Text messages from Jeremy at seemingly random times constantly remind Zach, “You know I got your back” and urge him to “Be great at what you do. Push it,” he says.
Random, maybe, for Jeremy, but he seems to have a sixth sense for when to reach out to Zach, who says the messages always hit at the right time.
12:18 P.M. I fumble through basketball shop talk and quickly realize I’m in over my head. I shift to asking questions again. Zach talks about the chemistry the brothers shared on the court.
“I didn’t even have to look at him to know where he is,” Zach recalled.
People thought because the Lamb brothers were skinny, they could be pushed around. Those teams usually walked away feeling differently.
12:51 P.M. “Lemme get four green tea shots,” Jeremy calls to the bartender.
I narrowly avoid whatever that is.
“Actually, my bad, five green tea shots,” Jeremy corrects himself.
Well damn. Here we go.
1:07 P.M. Jeremy’s neighbor Karl* has stayed at the table for the long-run, and he reflects on the moment he heard the news about Jeremy leaving for Indianapolis.
He already knew his friend and neighbor was leaving Charlotte, thanks to the fact that the Hornets oganization’s inability to pay stars like Jeremy and Kemba Walker is widely known.
For that reason, he was happy when he heard the news.
“We just love him,” Karl says, beaming.
Jeremy assures Karl that he and his new family have decided to put roots down in Charlotte. Indianapolis is only temporary. It’s only where he works. Home is Charlotte.
3:00 P.M. (or some time around then) Jeremy spots the mythical man in the white hat — the college kid who beat him at beer pong.
“Damn, really!?” Jeremy exclaims, unable to fathom that his white whale has now showed up at his favorite brunch spot just to seemingly rub it in.
3:24 P.M. Standing at the bar is a man who looks something like George Wendt in full conversation with Jeremy. Jeremy is talking and the man is laughing hysterically.
“Yo, this man is five foot two — with a beer belly. He says he can bench press…”
“Wooooo! Whosa Mama?” screamed probably-not-George-Wendt.
I order water and a ride home, as any potential for more in-depth conversation about Jeremy’s love for Charlotte seems to be fading away.
Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name. Other times you need to call it a day and go to sleep at 4:30 in the afternoon.
Cheers to Jeremy. There’s always a home for you here.