Former All-Star Steve Francis detailed growing up in Takoma Park, Maryland in a piece for The Player’s Tribune, revealing his history of selling drugs, which began at the age of 10 as a “phone boy” and continued until he was 18:
Four years before I was on that plane with Hakeem [Olajuwon] telling me we’re going shopping for cashmere suits together — four years before I was about to go play against Gary Payton — I was on the corner of Maple Ave in Takoma Park, Maryland, selling drugs outside the Chinese joint.
My mother had passed away. My father was in a federal penitentiary. We had 18 people living in one apartment. I had dropped out of high school. No scholarships. No GED. No nothing.
But Francis was determined to make it out, and ended up getting selected No. 2 overall in the 1999 Draft.
“From the corner to the NBA in four f*****g years,” he wrote.
During a nine-year stint in the League, the electric guard averaged 18.1 points, 6.0 assists, and 5.6 rebounds per game.
In the essay, Francis goes on to address his struggles after basketball, which included “drinking heavily” but not using crack, as was written about him:
I had some dark days, no question. And I know people were asking, “What the hell happened to Steve Francis?” But the hardest part was reading some bullshit on the Internet saying that I was on crack. When I thought about my grandmother reading that, or my kids reading that … that broke my heart. Listen, I sold crack when I was growing up. I’ll own up to that. But never in my life did I ever do crack.
What happened to Steve Francis? I was drinking heavily, is what happened. And that can be just as bad. In the span of a few years I lost basketball, I lost my whole identity, and I lost my stepfather, who committed suicide.