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Social media and the 10-second highlight clip were made for former Houston Rockets star Steve Francis. When healthy and at his best, the guard helped make the Houston Rockets must-see TV. Injuries eventually took their toll, and Francis, who teamed up with a young Yao Ming at one point, was never the same.

Francis parlayed his on-court success into over $100 million in earnings. However, he learned shortly after entering the NBA that he’d unknowingly been paying his family since he was 8.

Steve Francis had an All-Star NBA career

Like Andrew Luck in football, Francis is the perfect example of a high draft pick with a successful career that still ended in “what if?”

What if Steve Francis, the second overall pick in 1999, had stayed healthy? Francis averaged 19 points, six rebounds, 6.3 assists, and 1.6 steals per night in 384 games across six seasons for the Rockets.

The dynamic guard hit an even 43% of his shots and 34.5% from three-point range. Injuries eventually interfered and sapped Francis of his effectiveness. The three-time All-Star selection played his final NBA game in December 2007, a few months shy of turning 31.

Steve Francis earned over $100 million in the NBA

Steve Francis entered the NBA in 1999 — the right time from a financial standpoint. The game’s tremendous growth in the ’90s, spearheaded by Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls, led to owners making far more money. In turn, the owners spent far more to acquire and keep players around.

Francis earned over $103 million in the NBA. Most of those earnings came from a six-year, $84 million contract he signed with the Rockets in 2003.

Francis overcame a challenging childhood to reach the league

As a child growing up in Takoma, Maryland, Steve Francis didn’t enjoy sunshine and rainbows. His father served 20 years in federal prison for bank robbery, and his mother died in 1995 of cancer. The future All-Star sold crack cocaine at 10 years old and lived in an apartment with 18 people.

Francis penned a story about his journey for The Player’s Tribune in 2018. He recalled having credit card companies calling him after he signed his first NBA contract. After speaking with his brothers, Francis learned that his mother took out credit cards in his name to pay the bills when he was a child.

Unknowingly, an 8-year-old Francis helped pay the bills for his family. “America, man,” he wrote. “They’re never gonna forget. They’ll find you. I was paying off credit card bills from when I was eight years old. That’s how far I came from.”

Francis beat the odds to reach the NBA. He only played in two high school basketball games before dropping out and getting his GED. Over 20 years after making his NBA debut, Francis can always be proud that he made it. And for a time in the early 2000s, there weren’t many better young guards than Stevie Franchise.

Stats and financials courtesy of Basketball-Reference


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