Evan Turner isn’t a Trail Blazer anymore. In fact, he’s not even a member of the Boston Celtics.
But this story isn’t about what team or what city Turner is playing for these days, it’s bigger than basketball.
Four years ago, Turner met a kid named Frankie Ford Jr. during a junior Celtics clinic at a local high school. Turner noticed the kid with the bright hair from across the room, who was sitting with his head down and convinced him to come play basketball.
“We were all playing and everything and I saw this kid with the orange hair sitting in the corner with his head down, and I went over and said ‘come play,” Turner told Mark Murphy of The Boston Herald. “He told me something had happened with his family not long before that and he was down. I talked to him for a bit and made him feel comfortable. I asked him to come play on my team and play basketball, have fun.”
Over the next few hours, Turner gave Frankie a tour of the Celtics practice facility, they shot baskets together and even ordered cheeseburgers. Frankie discussed what he wanted for his upcoming birthday. Days later, Turner delivered a birthday present with a handwritten letter the young boy would never forget.
“I hope this birthday is one you’ll truly enjoy and always remember. I also hope the staff at Applebee’s sings a great birthday tune for you, as well!!
P.S. Pick up a book and read!!”
What Turner didn’t know at the time was that Frankie had just lost his father and uncle. His father, Francis Ford Sr. died of a heart attack, and his uncle Ralph, died of a heroin overdose at 38. He was facing trauma that most kids don’t go through and Turner was a friend when Frankie needed it.
Years later when Frankie went on Instagram to reconnect with his friend, Turner remembered.
“Frankiiiieeeee,” Turner replied in the messgae.
Frankie is now 13 years old and a 6-foot-2 basketball player for Gate of Heaven, his CYO basketball team. He recently invited Turner to one of his games. Turner was sent from Atlanta to Minnesota in a four-team trade earlier this week, but hopes to attend one of Frankie's games and cheer him on in the near future.
This story is about kindness and how it doesn’t take much to lift someone else’s spirit. It was Evan Turner four years ago, but it could be anyone today.
Read the full story via The Boston Herald here.