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Houston Rockets point guard Chris Paul has shown he can dominate on the NBA hardwood, but as he takes the mantle of host for the fifth annual Nickelodeon Kids’ Sports Choice Awards on Thursday, the nine-time All-Star is in a different mindset: Just have fun.
“It’s been a lot of fun. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Paul told The Hollywood Reporter on Tuesday.
This will mark Paul’s first time hosting an awards show on TV. The show, taping Thursday at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica and airing Friday, is an opportunity for the NBA star to step into the shoes of former hosts Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and NFL legend Michael Strahan and to be a role model for kids who one day want to be out on the court just like him.
And Paul likes that responsibility. He is the father of two children, son Chris Paul II and daughter Camryn. His kids are a big part of his life, even accompanying him during his NBA press conferences and State Farm commercials. It’s a part of him outside of basketball that makes him excited about the road ahead.
“The biggest thing that I understand is, the way my kids look up to different people, like [for example] my son and Cristiano Ronaldo. The way he looks at [Lionel] Messi because he loves soccer,” Paul said. “It really lets you know that there may be kids that look at you the same way. Even though I want those other guys to live their life and enjoy their life, I know from being their parent what it’s like when their eyes light up when they see them on TV. Now if that happens for me with a kid out there, I want to make sure I’m doing the right things.”
Before Friday’s show, Paul took some time to talk about what advice he got on how to host the Kids’ Choice Sports Awards. He also spoke about his Hollywood ventures, which include working with the upcoming documentary Crossroads and voicing a character in the upcoming Scooby-Doo cartoon series.
I heard you got advice from your kids. What have they been telling you while you prepare for the show?
They kept asking me if i was going to get slimed. They asked me if they can slide down [the slime slide]. My kids, they just want to be involved, they want to be around.
Your kids are a big part of your life. So what was their reaction when they first heard you were going to host?
They started telling me about all the shows they watch on Nickelodeon. My daughter was telling me about Paw Patrol. They started talking about SpongeBob. My son actually watches the new Double Dare now. It’s been a lot of fun. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
You are lending your voice to a cartoon. What is that like, being in a show that your kids can watch?
I enjoy doing all that stuff. Since I had kids, I go to the movies. I watch all the movies that they see. Having the opportunity to do the commercials at State Farm. Being around and get an opportunity to meet all these people. I felt voiceover is something I can do also in-season. When you do that, you don’t actually have to be on set and act. You can go to a studio and just do it.
With LeBron James heading to Los Angeles to join the Lakers and possibly working more with his production company, what other ventures are you looking into in Hollywood?
I have a production company and we’re working on a few different projects. We have a project coming out soon called Crossroads. It’s about a lacrosse team back home in North Carolina and some of the things they went through. I’m always trying to get into different avenues.
How involved were you with the project?
Very involved. We’re having a screening for it in North Carolina next month. Also with different projects coming up that I’m interested in with my team, we’re always trying to tell stories. I feel like I’ve been telling my story for 14 years now, so I sort of know how to do it.
Back to the Kids’ Sports Choice Awards … Russell Wilson has been a past host. Did you get any advice from him on how to host?
Not from him, but I talked to [Michael] Strahan. He’s a really good friend of mine and he’s hosted before. The biggest thing he said was just have fun. Today, when I finally got a chance to get here and see the setting and the energy of it all, I think it’ll be fine.
Funny enough, Kids’ Choice is known for its slime, but there’s this craze with kids now to make their own slime at home. Have you had to deal with the mess?
Oh, yeah. My daughter especially. At the store you can buy the ingredients for slime. Now I don’t know whose idea that was, but it doesn’t suit well for my household (laughs).
The fifth annual Kids’ Choice Sports Awards will air at 8 p.m. Friday on Nickelodeon. For a full list of nominees, click here.
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