HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — As we honor black history, we highlight Chris “Handles” Franklin, a Harlem Globetrotter from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania who is using his home-court advantage to assist and uplift those around him.
“What I am doing is what I always wanted to do since I was six years old,” Franklin said.
A globe-trotting goal, accomplished for Franklin whose career started to take off at Susquehanna Township High School. “It was a long time ago. Great times though, I loved it here,” Franklin said.
He put in the work, hooping his way through high school and college where he earned a master’s degree. Through it all, Franklin held onto his hope of becoming a Harlem Globetrotter. “I went after my dream. I sent them a tape of me doing tricks and things,” Franklin said.
His first shot came up short. “They were interested but it didn’t quite work,” Franklin said. But he refused to give up, taking a different shot. “My big break came with Nike.”
This time, it was a slam dunk. “I was a replacement for the world’s best dribbler contest,” Franklin said. “Then the Globetrotters came looking for me. So I spent all my life looking for the Globetrotters and they came looking for me.”
For the last 15 years, Franklin has hit hardwoods across the world, dazzling fans with fast hands and fingertip spins. “I was known as one of the best dribblers in the world,” Franklin said.
Throughout his travels, he kept his hometown and his community close to his heart. “My father was a police officer, my mother worked in a hospital, they helped people all my life and I think that gene was passed on to me and my brother,” Franklin said.
He started the Chris Handles Franklin Foundation as a way to give back. “We can not only event with the youth, but we are able to rehab playgrounds, we’ve done four parks. We have our turkey giveaway that we do every single year where we give turkeys to needy families. We provide gifts for the women’s shelter. We help feed and clothe the homeless. A lot of things our foundation does,” Franklin said.
When the Coronavirus crisis hit communities of color hard, Franklin and his foundation decided to pivot and host a vaccine clinic. “When it came to vaccinations, I saw a need for it, especially in our communities and just seeing the disparities for people of color. I have a master’s degree in social work so during the pandemic I was doing therapy,” Franklin said. “I saw what the pandemic has done not only to families but especially the kids so many people have been hurt through this pandemic.”
Still, he has hope. “We are all born with our own greatness and it’s important for us to strive every day to reach that greatness,” Franklin said.
And his faith to keep him grounded. “I think it’s important to keep God in your life. If God’s with you no one could be against you,” Franklin said.
Chris lost his father in March and his mother passed away just hours after his interview. He still held his turkey giveaway a few days later, lifting up and serving others, even during his grief.