|Page 2 of 3 < >|
Obama Had Multiethnic Existence in Hawaii
Obama's grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, a bank vice president, and grandfather, Stanley Dunham, a salesman, lived in a two-bedroom apartment in downtown Honolulu and helped raise their grandson along with his mother until he graduated from high school. Obama's mother died in 1995. His father and grandfather also are deceased.
As a teenager, Obama went to parties and sometimes sought out gatherings on military bases or at the University of Hawaii that were mostly attended by blacks. He wrote in his book that he tried drugs and let his grades slip in his final years of high school.
But friends and teammates said he didn't appear to be discontented and always seemed to fit in.
"He never let that show, so maybe it was more of an internal struggle," said teammate Alan Lum, who now teaches at Punahou.
At school, Obama was surrounded by the island's richest and most accomplished students. America Online founder Steve Case, actress Kelly Preston and former Dallas Cowboys lineman Mark Tuinei, who died in 1999, attended the school around that time. Pro golf sensation Michelle Wie, 17, is a student there now.
A lanky, left-handed forward, Obama became known for his elusive moves on the basketball court.
By his senior year, Obama was part of a talented team with at least three college-bound players. As a backup forward, Obama helped Punahou win the state championship in 1979. Teammates described him as charismatic, a somewhat quiet leader and outspoken with coaches when he didn't agree with them or understand their methods.
"He wasn't afraid to challenge authority," Lum said. "Sometimes I couldn't believe he would say it, but I would be thinking the same thing. I remember him being honest and courageous. I respected him for that."
Off the court, Obama brought books to read on road trips, served on the school literary magazine's editorial board and sang in choir as a freshman and sophomore.
He also spent time with his grandfather, sometimes playing checkers with the locals at Alii Park, spear fishing in Kailua Bay or listening to Stevie Wonder and Billie Holiday records.
Russell Cunningham, a close friend who often went body surfing with Obama, remembered his friend Barry for introducing him to new music and for giving him sound advice.
"He introduced us to jazz and George Benson when we were all listening to rock 'n' roll," said Cunningham, now an attorney in Sacramento, Calif. "He also told me to stick to my studies because they'll take me where I want to go. And I did, and I got to where I wanted to be."