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Flavor Flav is back in effect hyping NBA hopeful Shep Garner

The Public Enemy rapper is riding with his cousin, who plays in the G League

LAS VEGAS — NBA arenas usually play the latest hip-hop during games. But during halftime of the G League showdown between the Grand Rapids Drive and the Agua Caliente Clippers, the deejay dug into the crates to play Public Enemy’s 1990 hit “Can’t Do Nuttin’ For Ya Man.” It was a sign of respect for a celebrity fan in attendance.

Sitting courtside was legendary rapper Flavor Flav, who currently lives in Las Vegas and happens to be the cousin of Grand Rapids guard Shep Garner, who put up 19 points and five made 3-pointers on Wednesday at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center during the annual G League Showcase.

“He stands out and makes himself seen all the time,” Garner told The Undefeated after the Drive’s 110-94 loss to the Clippers. “He is a loud person and he wears loud colors. It’s hard to not see him.”

Flavor Flav, 59, was the hype man for the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame hip-hop group Public Enemy, which was known for rapping about the African-American community’s issues with the American government, law enforcement and the media. He made his presence known on singles, such as the aforementioned “Can’t Do Nuttin’ For Ya Man” and “911 is a Joke,” and appeared on several VH1 reality shows.

Primarily a huge sports fan of New York teams, Flavor Flav wore a T-shirt that read “Gassed up for the DRIVE” on the front and “Garner” and “33” on the back. The rapper said he started attending Garner’s basketball games when his cousin was a freshman at Penn State in 2014. He was there when Garner led Penn State to the National Invitation Tournament championship as a senior and even showed a video on his phone of Garner’s three-quarter-court buzzer-beater against the Raptors 905 on Dec. 2.

Garner, who says his grandmother is the sister of Flavor Flav’s mother, truly appreciates the support from his famous cousin.

“When someone of that stature comes to support you, it gives you a lot of confidence,” Garner said. “Family, love and support is always good at the game. It’s always good to have him in the stands chanting your name.”

Shep Garner #33 of the Grand Rapids Drive shoots against Jevon Carter #3 of the Memphis Hustle.

Brandon Dill/NBAE via Getty Images

Garner said he worked out for Detroit, Boston, Philadelphia and Brooklyn following his college career. He was not drafted nor did he play on a summer league team. Garner considered several overseas options but ended up signing a contract with the Detroit Pistons’ G League affiliate on Oct. 8.

“Garner can really shoot,” Pistons assistant general manager Malik Rose said. “He wasn’t drafted and didn’t get any summer league love. We were able to add him via local tryout. He’s just a good kid who adds to the team and culture with his personality and work ethic.

“Flavor Flav was a bonus.”

Averaging 6.9 points and shooting 33.7 percent from 3-point range in 19.9 minutes per game through 15 contests, Garner has the ability to make the NBA through the G League this season by being promoted by the Pistons or signed by another team.

While Garner appears to be a long shot to land that promotion this season, Flavor Flav believes his cousin is destined for greater things.

“Where he is right now, this is setting him up for the main stage,” Flavor Flav said. “That’s all I got to say. Look at the way he is playing right now. He’s very aggressive. Not only that, but he is a team player. He believes in teamwork. Teamwork brings dream work. …

“Some people make it up to the main stage. Some people have to go through another process before they make it to the main stage. I’m so proud of him for making it to this stage right now.”

Said Garner: “I want to give this a shot while I’m still young. I can still play at a high level. I wanted to chase it and see what I can do with it.”

When asked for the best advice he’d gotten from Flavor Flav, Garner said: “Shoot until you can’t shoot no more. Simple. Do what you do great. Stick to what you do and you’ll be successful.”

As for Flavor Flav, he is currently working on a new album and hopes to start a television show called Flavor Flav’s Vegas. He says he will be on tour with Public Enemy again soon. Moreover, he recently opened up Flavor Flav’s & Vinny’s Chicken & Pizza restaurant in nearby Henderson, Nevada. (“You have to come out and get your taste buds hooked,” he said.)

Flavor Flav also has another opportunity to see Garner play as the Drive play the Oklahoma City Blue on Friday.

Said Flavor Flav to The Undefeated: “I don’t care, wherever my cousin goes, I’m coming with him.”

Marc J. Spears is the senior NBA writer for Andscape. He used to be able to dunk on you, but he hasn’t been able to in years and his knees still hurt.