From drug dealer to NBA star
Munich – While Steve Francis recommends himself for the NBA, he sells crack. After his professional time he falls for alcohol. Now Francis is talking about his bizarre career.
Steve Francis himself hadn’t expected to play in the NBA once. The former Houston Rockets star revealed to the online platform The Players’ Tribune that he was dealing drugs just a few years before his NBA draft.
The 41-year-old grew up in Washington D.C. during the crack peak in the 1980s. For an adolescent whose father was in prison and whose mother died early, a dangerous environment “Crack destroyed our whole community. It was like a plague,” Francis said.
It all started at the age of ten when he had his first job as a “telephone boy”. People would call him when they needed new stuff, Francis explained. The former Guard transmitted contacts and transfer points.
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Unlike many other NBA professionals, Francis did not live the typical American high school dream. He attended six different schools and only appeared on the basketball field twice. After the death of his mother he left school at the age of 18. He made a name for himself in the Amateur Athletic Union, the organization for American amateur sport.
There he convinced so much that community colleges became aware of him. Francis took his chance. He soon played for the University of Maryland. And that’s good. In 1999 he was the second pick at the NBA draft, the Vancouver Grizzlies (today: Memphis Grizzlies) took it, but sent it to the Houston Rockets, because Francis didn’t want to play for Vancouver.
At the age of 18, he was still selling crack, threatened with weapons and robbed. 22 years old, I was drafted in the NBA,” Francis summed up the rapid course of his career. He played nine years in the best basketball league in the world, most of it for the Rockets, occasionally also for the Orlando Magic and the New York Knicks.
Francis became a star. He received the Rookie of the Year award, took part in the Dunk contest and was voted All-Star three times. In his best season he scored 21.6 points, 7.0 rebounds and 6.4 assists.
After his career ended in 2010, speculations arose. Many suspected that he was back in the crack swamp. But Francis explained: “I sold crack when I was growing up. And I owned it, too. But I never took it.”
He still got weak on another drug. Francis became an alcoholic:”And that can be just as bad. “Within a few years, I lost my basketball, my entire identity and my stepfather who committed suicide.”
A few years ago, he was caught driving under the influence. After the ex-basketball player served his sentence, he underwent alcohol withdrawal. He is still not back on the right track today. But he’s got perspective again.
For him it is still incomprehensible that he has managed to play in the NBA: “And that is the only thing people should remember”.
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