Kenny Smith can collect his crown for Dad of the Year.
The two-time NBA champion and current NBA analyst not only gave his 17-year-old daughter, Kayla Brianna, the green light for pursuing a music career, but he also organized a gang of his celebrity friends -- Chris Rock, George Lopez, Ice Cube and Keri Hilson -- to record at-a-girl video messages to his daughter after she landed a deal with Interscope Records. Last week, her record label debuted her new music video during TNT's halftime of the Lakers-Heat game, which interspersed player footage with Brianna's single. Folks liked what they saw: Brianna and her song "If You Love Me" became a national trending topic.
"I'm a basketball person, you know? If you wanna be a college basketball player, I can really help you," Smith says. "She said she wanted to be a singer, wanted to be an artist and I said, 'Why don't you write down the 10 things you think you need to be an artist, because I have no idea whatsoever.' And she wrote down those 10 things and I just provided those services for her. Her talent kicked the door in. I was the cab driver, driving her to the places that she put on her list."
Best lessons she's learned from Dad?
"I just see what he puts into his job, like how hard he works and his dedication so I just use that in singing," says Brianna, who's hoping to be the next Beyonce.
Smith says that when he heard his daughter sing, he thought she was amazing. Of course, he also jokes that he was listening with his daddy ears, so he didn't want to jump the gun and crown her the next big thing.
"Other people would approach me and be like: 'Hey Kenny, do you have a daughter that sings? I saw her at this showcase. You really need to take this serious, man.' Others validated what I already thought," he said.
And as far as last week's big coup?
He wasn't surprised one bit.
"If I watch Kobe Bryant work out, and then all of a sudden he has a good game, you're not surprised. You saw the work that went into it. I got to see all of the behind-the-scenes, all of the effort, all of the hard work, all of the hours and hours in the studio getting there 'til 3 in the morning, and then waking up at 6 to go to class," he says.
This month is a big month for Brianna. She's finishing up the album -- and she's working with music legends Ron Fair (Keyshia Cole) and Vincent Herbert (Lady Gaga) -- and later this month, she'll perform in Orlando, Fla., during All-Star week. Her Twitter followers (@KaylaBriannaX) have a chance to win a trip to the game and hang out with her, courtesy of her record label; she's booked to perform at an NBA jam session.
As for her dad, he swears he's no daddy-ger (as in, daddy/manager).
"No! Not at all. The great thing about my situation is I still get to be Kenny, basketball Kenny. She has her own management team she has her own record label," he said. "All I have to do is make sure that she's doing her homework."