Harlem Globetrotter’s motivational speech a slam dunk

"Can I get a standing ovation for the gift of life?" Franco encourages students to appreciate what they are given. Photo courtesy of Alex Schuler.
"Can I get a standing ovation for the gift of life?" Franco encourages students to appreciate what they are given. Photo courtesy of Alex Schuler.

The Freshman and Sophomores at Leesville experienced an interesting assembly on Tuesday, November 15 involving basketball, tragedy, rehabilitation and a Harlem Globetrotter. 

As the freshman walked in, a DJ played Ke$ha’s pump up song “blow” while Mrs. Angie Tucker, guidance counsellor, waited patiently on the stage.

The lights dimmed and the music softened, and Tucker introduced Seth Franco.

“Who here is excited to be at school?” asked Franco. This warranted a less than enthusiastic cheer.

“Now who is excited to be alive?” demanded Franco. “Can we get an ovation for the gift of life?”

Amidst various cheers and applause, Franco began his inspirational story.

He told the audience that he grew up as an under privileged New Yorker. He dreamed of playing basketball professionally, and he felt confident about achieving this dream.

“I tried out for my college team, and didn’t make it. My coach told me I was a ‘trick player’– I knew tricks, but not the game,” explained Franco.

His coach red shirted him, so he could train with the team but not play in the games, and he was thankful for the opportunity.

Unfortunately, tragedy struck. During what he expected to be the peak of his career, Franco lost the ability to walk. The cartiledge in his left hip was deformed, and he thought his basketball days were over.

“I had to be in a wheel chair. During that time, I taught myself hand tricks because that was all the basketball I could play,” said Franco.

Eventually Franco regained the ability to walk, and the hand tricks he learned while handicapped earned him a spot on a famous trick basketball team: The Harlem Globetrotters.

“We always shine brightest in the dark,” explained Franco, meaning that the tough times are the ones that show who people really are.

Franco then took volunteers on stage based on what the crowd thought.

“Who here is the best athlete? The goofiest? The best student?” the audience pointed to whom they thought suited the criteria, and through this method six bashful students traipsed onto the stage.

Amidst synchronized applause, Franco played an abbreviated game of basketball in which he showcased his flips and tricks.

Franco then closed with an extended metaphor.

“When you work out, you tear the fibres in your muscles apart. They rebuild back stronger than before,” said Franco. “When you are being ripped apart and feel at your lowest, you come back more stable, more capable, more sturdy than before.”

The response from the students was positive.

“He was awesome,” said Miche Johnson, freshman. “I liked the basketball because it was something I’ve never seen before, and he connected with us through his story.”

On behalf of the Leesville Pride, thank you Mr. Franco for sharing with us your story and your amazing basketball skills.


  1. What an inspirational story. A wise man once told me “attitude determines altitude,” I also know….. “We can do all things through Christ who strenghtens us”. I hope this encourages young adults to believe in themselves and know they too can overcome adversity and thrive. God Bless!

  2. Once again I go to my Mycenaean when I can’t get to an event. Thanks for the wonderful recap on Mr. Franco. He stopped by the front office and had Ms. Flor spin a basketball on her finger and I can imagine he was thrilling to watch at the assembly. What a wonderful soul. I love the message left with us and again thank you for sharing so I could benefit from it!


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