The banquet room at Fogo de Chao was abuzz with activity, not all of it supplied by the gaucho-attired waiters zipping from table to table with large skewers of meat. Friends and family of Carmelo Anthony - plus a celebrity or two - had come together to help the NBA star kick off his "4th Annual H.O.O.D. Movement Weekend," to benefit the Carmelo Anthony Foundation.
On the weekend's agenda: a 3-on-3 basketball challenge and family fun one day, and a big sports-legends brunch the next.The proceeds would be going toward local organizations that help underserved kids and families in this city where the Denver Nuggets star grew up.
At one table, rapper T.I. was getting some dinner. The fact that he would be performing at 1st Mariner Arena in about an hour didn't seem to affect his appetite.
"You know, food brings energy," T.I. said with a smile.
"I'm just here to support Carmelo Anthony with his foundation ... to help these kids in Baltimore and urban areas as much as we can, however we can," he said.
That sentiment was echoed by Dallas Mavericks player Josh Howard, as he explained how the two had become friends.
"Me and Melo came out in the NBA draft in the same year, 2003."
"Without the community of Baltimore, I don't think Carmelo would be who he is," said fellow Baltimore native, Kevin Liles, Warner Music Group executive vice president.
Anthony's mother, Mary Anthony, scanned the room, looking a bit overwhelmed.
"It's exciting about the whole thing, because when you look around and see what he's come back to do, it's hard to speak about. It's so overjoyful, and that's where I'm at right about now," she said.
Meanwhile, her son was obviously savoring the moment.
"Oh, it's just great, man. ... It's just always good to give back to the kids," Anthony said, as he dandled his one-year-old son, Kiyan, on his knee.
"At first, it was just the 3-on-3 tournament. Now, it's a whole weekend. I'm looking forward to expanding it next year."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun