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  • David Acalin

Like His Father: The Grace and Conscience of Steve Kerr

Updated: Jul 12, 2020

Steve Kerr and his Golden State Warriors just won their 3rd championship in 4 years which solidifies their team as a legitimate dynasty. While watching an interview with Steve Kerr before one of the games, I was surprised to learn that Steve and I have something in common--I knew his father, Dr. Malcolm Kerr.

"...As somebody who’s had a family member shot and killed, it devastates me every time I read about this stuff, like what happened in Orlando, and then it’s even more devastating to see the government just cowing to the NRA..." - Steve Kerr during the TK Show podcast with Tim Kawakami of the The San Jose Mercury News, on June 24, 2016

When I attended U.C.L.A. for my undergraduate degree I was a political science major focusing on Middle East studies.  Malcolm was my favorite professor, and he ultimately became a very close friend and mentor.  I would go to Malcolm’s office after class and talk about a variety of topics, both related and unrelated to my course load.  I just loved listening to the man. He was one of the top academics in the world on Middle East studies and his credentials were impressive to say the least – an undergraduate degree from Princeton, in 1953; a masters from American University in Beirut, in 1955; a Ph.D in Advanced International Studies from Johns Hopkins in 1958; post-doctorate work at Oxford in 1959; a professor at U.C.L.A. from 1962 to 1982, where he served as chairman of the Department of Political Science, and as Dean of the Department of Social Sciences; fluent in Arabic; and author of seven books on Middle Eastern history and politics.

Steve Kerr and his family, circa 1976, at their home in Pacific Palisades, California. (Left to right: Steve, his brother Andrew, mother Ann, dog Hoagie with father Malcolm, his brother John and his sister Susan.

From L.A. to D.C. to Beirut  Malcolm was a titan in his field, and during the late 1970’s, there were numerous times during the school year where classes would have to be canceled because he had been called to the White House to advise the president and cabinet on a burgeoning or ongoing Middle Eastern crisis. Yet, with all of his commitments and responsibilities, he wrote me a letter of recommendation that helped me gain acceptance into law school.  I was elated and honored. Shortly after I had graduated with my J.D., Malcolm left U.C.L.A. after 20 years of unparalleled success and acclaim, to become the President of American University in Beirut, Lebanon.  This was his dream job because he was essentially going home – Malcolm’s parents had taught at the American University in Beirut for 40 years; Lebanon was his birthplace and he had spent the better part of his childhood and graduate studies on and around the campus. I remember from our conversations that he was intent on giving back to the people of the Middle East, whom he had spent his life studying, and he was committed to making AUB a beacon of inclusive, progressive educational opportunity in the region, especially for Arabic people. Malcolm’s steadfast belief was that only through education and mutual understanding could a healthy, lasting peace be achieved.  These were his ideals and he lived his life accordingly. Tragically, on January 18, 1984, members of Islamic Holy War, who were equally steadfast in eliminating the presence of any Westerner, assassinated Malcolm in the hallway just outside of his office.  He was 52 years old. The academic world mourned the loss of a revered colleague and friend, who had dedicated his life to improving the lives of others on a global scale, and ironically, the people who needed his voice of compassion and reason, most of all, were responsible for his murder.

Kerr Family in Beirut, Lebanon, circa 1983, wearing American University of Beirut sweaters. (From left: John, Andrew, Ann, Malcolm, Susan, Steve)

Not surprisingly, Malcolm’s second son, Steve, who was a scholarship freshman for the University of Arizona under Lute Olson on that fateful day, inherited Malcolm’s competitive nature and empathetic world view. Following the tragedy in Orlando, Florida, on June 12, 2016, during which a hate-filled gunman killed 49 people in a gay nightclub, the NBA held a moment of silence for the victims and their families prior to the tip-off of Game 5 of the Finals. Just before Game 6, the fine journalist Mr. Farid Farid, who was writing an article about Malcolm for The New Yorker, caught up to Steve to ask him about his thoughts during that moment of silence. According to Farid’s article, Steve said he had thought about his dad, and reflected, “It’s very personal, because you’ve gone through it,” he said. “You understand how much they are suffering, just like how our family went through that suffering. When you think of it, all of these statistics have names and these names have faces. They are people who are now lost.” I can hear Malcolm in Steve’s words, and I’m quite certain Malcolm would be exceedingly proud of his son, Steve – A five time NBA Champion as a player, Head Coach of the 2015 NBA Champion Golden State Warriors, NBA Coach of the Year for 2016, and a true citizen of the world.

Steve celebrates with Michael Jordan after winning the 1997 NBA Finals. Steve hit the winning shot after receiving a pass from Michael with one second left on the shot clock, and five seconds left on the game clock, in Game 6, to defeat the Utah Jazz. It's was Steve's most memorable moment during his stellar NBA career.  To see Steve's game winner, go to:

To see Mr. Farid’s entire article please go to: To read more stories like this, and to stay current on pending changes and advancements to U.S. immigration laws, please continue to follow me at If you have a success story to share, or would like to speak with me about an immigration issue, please contact me at My staff and I have years of experience and we know how to get things done for you and your family.

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