Editor's note: David J. Pate Jr, is an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Helen Bader School of Social Welfare. He is a member of the Ford Foundation Scholars Network on Masculinity and the Wellbeing of African American Males. The piece was written in association with The Op-ed Project, which seeks to expand the range of opinion voices.
By David J. Pate Jr., Special to CNN
(CNN) - As a father, my heart breaks.
The starting five of the University of Kentucky basketball team — the 2012 NCAA champions — announced earlier this month that they're leaving college to go pro. It happens every year in the wake of March Madness, but as an African-American father, I feel my heart crack a little.
Yes these young champions will make money, lots of it, and will have access to instant fame.
I've been researching the lives of black men for much of my entire career, as a social worker for 15 years in Chicago and since 1998 as a college professor and scholar in Milwaukee. I've interviewed them, written about them and filmed them, capturing their lives and hopes; I've spent most of my time with men who had little to no incomes and limited academic and employment skills. They are often frustrated, homeless, unemployed and debt-ridden.