When Steve Francis arrived in the NBA in 1999, he had all the makings to be a superstar for the next decade or more. Known for his athleticism and playmaking ability, the Maryland native and talented point guard was on pace to become one of the best players of the era.
After his first season in the league resulted in a co-Rookie of the Year award, Francis landed on the All-Star team just two seasons later. At the time, it looked like “Stevie Franchise” would tear through the NBA for the foreseeable future.
But that dream never quite came to fruition. After falling out of the NBA after just 10 tumultuous seasons, Francis struggled to adjust back to society. Following his playing days, he struggled with addiction and found himself in legal trouble. In 2016, a warrant was issued for Francis’s arrest for his involvement in a burglary.
Since then, the former basketball star, now 44, has been outspoken about his trials and tribulations, including his difficult upbringing. Francis’s playing days may be long over, but he hopes that by sharing his story, he can help others.
“My life, overall, has been a blessing and I think telling my story can inspire someone else,” Francis said in a 2020 interview with Jerry Bembry of The Undefeated. “I went through a lot, but was able to persevere and go to college, become a dad and be a leader in my community in Houston. I want to show all angles of my life, and also tell the stories of the people that I encountered along the way growing up in Washington, D.C., who didn’t have the platform that I have.”
Let’s take a look at where Steve Francis has been and where he hopes to go in the future.
Francis played his three years of college ball all in his home state of Maryland, for three different programs. He began at a pair of community colleges, San Jacinto and Allegany College of Maryland. He then burst onto the national scene with the Maryland Terrapins, averaging 17 points, 4.5 assists and 2.8 steals per game. He remains a fan of the program to this day.
The following year, in what became one of the most shocking moments in NBA Draft history, Francis refused to join the franchise that selected him. The Vancouver Grizzlies tried to use the second overall pick in the 1999 NBA Draft on the former Maryland Terrapin, but he publicly refused to join the team in what would be a turbulent start to his professional career.
Francis was dealt to the Houston Rockets in one of the largest trades in league history at the time. The change of scenery clearly served him well as he went on to win co-Rookie of the Year during the 1999-2000 season.
The six-foot-three point guard quickly made a reputation for himself as an elite scorer with a tight handle and jaw-dropping athleticism. Francis also became an excellent passer, averaging over six assists per game during his first six years in the league. He reached the pinnacle of his career in just his third season in the NBA, scoring 21.6 points per game, while grabbing 7.0 rebounds and dishing out 6.4 assists. He made the Western Conference All-Star team and started alongside Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan.
Francis made the All-Star team twice more in each of the next two seasons, setting himself up for what looked to be an illustrious NBA career. However, after a fallout with the Rockets, he was traded to the Orlando Magic.
After he began to revitalize his career during the 2004-05 season, Francis once again found himself with at odds with the team he played for. The Magic traded the point guard’s best friend, Cuttino Mobley, and faltered down the stretch, missing out on the playoffs. Francis played in just 46 games the next season before being traded to the New York Knicks.
For the last few seasons of his NBA career, the former 2000 Rookie of the Year began to have issues staying healthy. Francis played in just 33 games over his last two years in the league. Just like that, his days playing basketball were numbered.
Francis ended his playing career in the Chinese Basketball Association, playing just over a month for the Beijing Ducks. He returned to the United States in December of 2010 after playing just 14 minutes overseas.
Life after Basketball
After his time on the court came to a close, Francis struggled to find his way. He battled an alcohol addiction and began to have multiple run-ins with the law.
In November of 2016, Francis was arrested for driving under the influence. Just a month later, he turned himself into the police after a warrant was issued for his involvement in a burglary.
Francis has since been outspoken about the “dark place” he was in following his stepfather’s suicide and the end of his basketball career. In 2018, he wrote a piece for the Players’ Tribune, explaining his struggles over the past few years.
In one particularly gripping excerpt, Francis talked about how he lost himself as multiple difficult life events took place in a short period of time.
“I had some dark days, no question. And I know people were asking, “What the hell happened to Steve Francis?” But the hardest part was reading some bullshit on the Internet saying that I was on crack. When I thought about my grandmother reading that, or my kids reading that … that broke my heart. Listen, I sold crack when I was growing up. I’ll own up to that. But never in my life did I ever do crack.”
“What happened to Steve Francis? I was drinking heavily, is what happened. And that can be just as bad. In the span of a few years I lost basketball, I lost my whole identity, and I lost my stepfather, who committed suicide.”
Steve Francis opened up about his unlikely journey to the NBA. pic.twitter.com/s3bBocRxLF
— ESPN (@espn) March 9, 2018
Net Worth and Family
According to Celebrity Net Worth, Steve Francis is believed to have a net worth of about $40 million.
The former NBA star racked up quite a bit of cash during his 10-season career, including a 6-year, $84 million extension that he signed with the Houston Rockets prior to the start of the 2003-04 campaign. At the time, that seemed like a fair price to pay for an early career All-Star, but Francis tailed off due to injuries and disagreements with head coach Jeff Van Gundy.
Francis put his home in Houston on the market in 2020 for $5 million, according to Chron. He had purchased the home in 2003 while playing for the Rockets.
Steve Francis married his wife, Shelby, in September of 2006. The two divorced in 2016, as Shelby cited Steve’s “severe substance issues” as part of the reason for their separation. The couple has two children: Steven Francis II and Shailyn Francis.
What’s Next For Steve Francis?
In a recent interview with Andy Frye of Forbes, Francis spoke about one of his recent endeavors. The former NBA star has become investor and owner of a new team in The Basketball League. Known as TBL, the professional basketball minor league gives Francis a chance to be around the game he loves.
“One of the things we players love most is that we love to play basketball. But throughout my career I was also interested in knowing more about the owners’ side of basketball, and how they pay a lot to players but also maintain and grow investment in their teams. So, I wanted to use my business savvy to get involved (in the game) and branch out, so I joined the The Basketball League.
“The TBL is a 35-team league, and my team is called the Houston Push. Our aim is to develop some of the world’s best players and up-and-coming players who want to realize their dream of an NBA career. It’s a stepping stone for me for some of the big things I want to do the rest of my life.”
Despite his off-the-court struggles, Francis seems to have found his next passion project. He also continues to do work with the Steve Francis Foundation, which hopes “to create educational and recreational opportunities for at-risk youth in the greater Houston and Washington, DC communities.”
At just 44-years-old, it looks like we haven’t heard the last from the former NBA star.