Seth Franco could write a book about beating the odds.
The first white basketball player in the 60-year history of the great Harlem Globetrotters, Franco can do more than dribble two basketballs at one time. The basketball wizard, a man of strong faith, travels the country sharing his long-shot history and entertaining thousands with his special talents.
Franco shared his magical skills at 11 area school assemblies, starting at Matoaca High School, and held a Fellowship of Christian Athletes Multi-School Rally on a recent evening at Colonial Heights Baptist Church.
“He’s one of the best speakers we’ve ever had at an assembly,” one Matoaca High School student said. “He was great.”
Franco was guest speaker for the One Way 2 Play Drug Free programs at local middle and high schools, plus St. Paul’s College. He is teaming with former Olympic track star Hollis Conway to spread the positive message to FCA Appomattox Basin area schools. The two star athletes were scheduled to appear at 24 school assemblies, telling their life stories and promoting the One Way 2 Play Drug Free program.
“The Globetrotters were not an end, but a stepping stone,” he said. Now, Franco loves his job, dribbling and spinning basketballs, and speaking to children. He impresses them with his basketball skills and then shares his heart. His message is simple and profound.
“The most important things in life are the decisions you make every day,” the former Globetrotter said. “True success comes not from what you do with your talents, but the choices you make every day to do the right things.”
Franco attended a small school on Long Island, before his family moved to Brooklyn and he went to the tough Abraham Lincoln High School. A razor thin boy, Franco was a definite minority at the inner city school, especially for a basketball player. He was the junior varsity starting point guard.
His family later returned to Long Island, where he attended Nyack Christian College in Manhattan. He still had his heart set on a career in the NBA, before a hip injury shattered his plans.
Franco later joined the Richmond Outreach Center and developed a basketball program for inner city kids. The Court Jesters, a basketball entertainment group, discovered him and put Franco’s picture on their website. Suffering from a sore hip, he became discouraged and moved to Kansas City.
Around the same time, Universal Studios starting casting calls for a movie, Rucker Park, to be filmed in New York. They were looking for a white kid with extraordinary basketball skills. In somewhat of a miracle, Franco learned of the opportunity and jumped on a plane back to New York. He was selected for the lead role in the movie.
Franco soon landed a job with the Harlem Wizards pro basketball team, played for two months, and was invited to a Globetrotters’ tryout. Beating all odds and leg pain, he became a Globetrotter star, toured the United States and headed to Europe.
His road to the top involved a lot of twists and turns before he went on the world basketball tour with the Globetrotters, a dream come true. But his leg injury finally ended his amazing run on the hardwood court. At 11 area school performances, he showed he could still handle a basketball and share what’s important in life with teenagers.
Conway was raised in the inner city of Chicago and was very small as a youngster. But he became a world class athlete, setting track records, including an American indoor record high jump of 7 feet,10.5 inches in 1991.
Conway has published two highly respected books and is an outstanding assembly speaker. He helps youth overcome obstacles and reach their potential in life.
One of the highlights of his career was a trip to the Olympic platform in Seoul, South Korea, to pick up a silver medal.
Conway and Franco will help many FCA Appomattox Basin youth realize the importance of the One Way 2 Play Drug Free program. Conway will appear at many area schools for the FCA program next week.
“We lost one assembly to the weather Thursday morning,” local FCA staff leader Lennie Nugent stated. “But he does a great job and the One Way 2 Play Drug Free program is off to a good start in our area schools.”