A lot of NBA players had a hard time growing up and some of them even did illegal activities during their life in order to survive. Steve Francis who is remembered by NBA fans as one of the most explosive guards with a deadly crossover is one of the players that had to spend a lot of time on the streets selling drugs in order to earn money and survive.
What is absolutely unbelivieable is that Francis didn't actually play high-school basketball after he decided not to play anymore when he got assigned to the JV team because he was too short. This has lead to him being frustrated and he decided to get back to his old job which was known on the streets as a "phone boy". In a interview for The Players Tribune, Francis talks more about his past and the job he started doing at the age of 10.
"It was easy. I’d wait outside the Chinese spot and sit on the curb by the pay phone, looking all innocent, and whenever the phone would ring, I’d answer. It was always people looking for drugs, looking for girls, looking for whatever. I’d tell them where to meet the dealers, and that was it. All day, all night. It would be 50 drugs dealers standing outside on one corner, and 50 drug dealers standing on another corner. And then Lil Steve, posted up by the pay phone.
Francis working on the corner of streets, caused him to have a lot of problems because he would often get robbed or beat. He also talked about the problem of narcotics on the streets and how everyone around him had serious problems with it.
"So I stayed on the corner, doing what I had to do to survive. It was messed up. I’m not glorifying it. I got robbed at gunpoint a million times. I got my ass beat a million times. I saw the drive-bys. But honestly, if you ask me what really scared me the most, it wasn’t the guns. Shootings were almost … natural. I mean, what do you think is gonna happen when you’re in the streets? The scariest thing was the drugs. The needles, man. The pipes. The PCP. The people slumped over with that look in their eyes. It was everywhere. These were regular people — nurses, teachers, mailmen. The mayor of D.C., Marion Barry. It was the zombie apocalypse. That’s the environment we were living in, every day, every minute."
Eventually, Francis started to work on his craft which was his only way out of that situation and he made it. He played college basketball and later on became a three-time NBA All-Star with the Houston Rockets after which he got traded to the Orlando Magic. He eventually stopped playing in the NBA relatively young, at the age of 30. Still to this day, Francis is thankful for everything basketball gave him and the opportunity he was given to him to have a better life.