Harlem Globetrotter Anthony "Buckets" Blakes grew up in a family of 10 children.

"It was awesome," he says. "There was an older generation of five, then a nine-year gap and a younger generation of five.

"People always ask my parents how they did it," Blakes says. "They had a lot of help from us older kids.

"When we put groceries away, the little ones put stuff in the lower cabinets, while the older ones put stuff in the upper cabinets. They dressed all the boys in the same colors and all the girls in the same colors."

These experiences taught Blakes not only responsibility and teamwork, but also gave him some excellent basketball skills. The fourth oldest in the family, he has two older brothers.

"When I played basketball with them and my cousins, they wouldn't let me hang out if I couldn't keep up," Blakes says. "In order to get the basketball, I had to get the rebounds or steal the ball while they dribbled. When I joined the Boys & Girls Club, they moved me up so that I played on the same team as my two older brothers."

On March 13, Blakes and his teammates will play the Savannah Civic Center. Not surprisingly, he says his parents are his heroes.

"It's because of everything they got us involved in," he says. "Not just around the house, but at school, too.

"They put us in every sport you can think of and arts and crafts. We went hiking and hopped in the car and went to Vegas, California and Texas."

Not that Blakes was an angel. At age 5, he cut a hole in his father's hat so he could shoot tennis balls through the "basket."

"We did it at night and when he put on his hat the next morning, his hair popped out of the top," Blakes says. "I was in kindergarten, and I was gone to school already when he put his hat on."

To this day, Blakes has no remorse. "They were taking too long to get me a Nerf hoop!" he explains.

After all, Blakes saw basketball on television, he saw it at the neighborhood park and he wanted to play.

"I asked for a Nerf hoop and they took entirely too long to get it," he says. "I had to make do."

To this day, Blakes can't sleep if he doesn't have a bowl of cereal before going to bed.

"It's like a comfort thing," he says. "It puts me to sleep. I eat that bowl of cereal and all of a sudden, I doze off."

Kevin Johnson of the Phoenix Suns was an inspiration to Blakes.

"When I was in high school, the Phoenix Suns were doing very well," he says. "Kevin Johnson would show up at the Boys and Girls Club behind the projects where I lived and gave out Phoenix Sun wristbands.

"I thought that was pretty cool. He'd have a positive impact on the kids and not want any attention because he did it on his own.

"Now he's mayor of Sacramento and he's come full circle," Blakes says. "I had the opportunity to talk to the kids at a Sacramento Boys & Girls Club with him."

In addition to playing basketball, Blakes is completing a degree in psychology.

"I got an associate's degree years ago," he says. "The opportunity came to play basketball when I was at the University of Wyoming."

Although he had just one semester left, Blakes' scholarship was used up.

"I didn't have the money to pay for a semester," he says. "So I saved for it."

Blakes has already put his knowledge to use, acting as a sports mentor for high school and college students.

"I've been training and mentoring since I was 11," he says.

Today, Blakes has children of his own. Will they play basketball?

"I'm waiting for them to ask," he says. "I don't force anything on them.

"I'm getting them involved in all kinds of things," Blakes says. "I'm doing them like my parents did me."

As a hobby, Blakes collects Lucien Piccard watches.

"I mainly wear them with a suit and tie," he says. "I like the classic look.

"They all have a particular significance to them because my dad worked for the city of Phoenix. He always put on city gear for construction jobs, but when he'd come home, he showered and changed clothes. I always watched him put on his watch."

After college, Blakes played professional ball, then was drafted to the NBA development league. An offer to play in Europe resulted in him living in Cyprus and Finland.

"When I finished, I got a call from the Globetrotter scouts," Blakes says. "Playing with the Globetrotters is a great experience.

"It puts a lot of smiles on people's faces and opens a lot of doors," he says. "We do a lot of representation, not just for the African-American community, but for the United States itself.

"We're building bridges between the United States and other countries that didn't have good relationships with us in the past," Blakes says. "We're fighting racism, anti-Semitism and sexism."

Blakes notes that in 1985, the Harlem Globetrotters became the first professional team to have a woman play as part of the team.

Known as the "Ambassadors of Goodwill," the Globetrotters are on a campaign to promote their partnership with World Vision, a Christian humanitarian organization that works with communities around the world to provide long-term solutions to poverty.

As a Globetrotter, Blakes participates in programs such as C.H.E.E.R. for Character, an education program that is presented to schools throughout North America, and the ABCs of Bully Prevention, founded to stop violence.

There's also a lot of fun in the job, such as doing the Trotter Bounce, a dance the players do during games. Mark Ballas of ABC's "Dancing with the Stars" choreographed the dance for the Globetrotters.

New this year is "Fans Rule." The Globetrotters became the first organization in sports and entertainment to let fans vote on the rules when the team introduced the concept last year.

Since the response was so overwhelming, the team is doing it again, but with zanier rules to choose from. Blakes encourages fans to go to www.harlemglobetrotters.com to vote.

"The fans get to see us play and do tricks, and get to see us cut a rug, too," Blakes says. "It's an honor to wear this uniform,"