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Started From The Bottom Now He’s Here: How A Former Drug Dealer Became An NBA All-Star

Within a span of four years, Steve Francis had seen it all. A high school dropout, Francis was dealing drugs in Takoma Park, Maryland, and had no dreams of going to the NBA. After his mother passed away from cancer when he was 18, there seemed to be no future for Francis. But his grandmother encouraged him to get his GED and attend junior college, where his basketball prowess led him to the University of Maryland and eventually the NBA. How did he do it? Read on for the incredible story of the man known as “The Franchise.”

Living In An Epidemic


The Blast

The ’80s crack epidemic tore apart America’s inner cities. Francis grew up in the middle of it in Washington, D.C., where role models were hard to come by. His father was serving 20 years for bank robbery.

Dealing Drugs At Age 10


WS Buzz

When he was 10 years old, he worked for the local drug dealers. He’d answer public payphones and guide people to where they could score whatever they needed.

Shooting Baskets Between Deals


The Washington Post

Francis would pass the time between drug-deal phone calls shooting a basketball. He wasn’t shooting on a regulation rim, though. He was shooting into the top of a phone booth that’d had its roof ripped off.

High School Dropout


The Baltimore Sun

Francis was talented enough to play high school basketball but didn’t want to play on the junior varsity squad, so he quit. He developed his skills through pickup games and a few AAU games.

Grandmotherly Influence


The Washington Times

Living in extreme poverty, Francis attended six different high schools. He was robbed countless times while dealing drugs. With his father in prison, Francis’ mother died of cancer when he was 18 years old. It wasn’t until his grandmother encouraged him to get his GED that his life began to turn around.

Excelling In College Basketball


The Baltimore Sun

After getting his GED and attending a junior college in Texas, Francis transferred to the University of Maryland. He was a Naismith finalist as one of the best college players in the nation.

Going To The Show


Grantland

Drafted second overall by the Vancouver Grizzlies, Francis was not happy and let the public know it. He was soon part of a three-team, 11-player trade that sent him to the Houston Rockets.

Rookie Of The Year


Yahoo! Sports

Francis soon let the league know he was the real deal. At the All-Star Game, he finished runner-up to perennial all-star Vince Carter in the dunk contest. He shared NBA Rookie of the Year honors with Elton Brand.

Traded


Sporting News

After five seasons with the Rockets which included three all-star nominations, Francis was traded. He averaged 19 points, 6 assists, and 6 rebounds during his tenure with the team.

Making It


L.A. Times

He bounced around the league for another five years before retiring. Although he never regained his NBA All-Star form, he’d already made it farther than anyone, including he himself, expected.

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