Founded by former NBA star and current Assistant General Manager of the New York Knicks, Allan Houston, the Allan Houston Legacy Foundation promotes entrepreneurship, mentoring, and a strong relationship between fathers and children. In an exclusive interview, Allan Houston spoke to Examiner.com about the Foundation and its beneficent initiatives:
ALLAN HOUSTON: We’re going into our tenth year in our efforts and commitment to building strong family units through fatherhood and mentoring initiatives. We also have an entrepreneurship program where we train young entrepreneurs, ages 18-25, in skill development components to start their own business. Our whole model is building the family unit through different layers and components... particularly through allowing fathers and mentors to be engaged in the lives of their children through activities such as basketball and sports. We partner with community-based organizations—we just completed a five-borough tour last year. We’ve been in cities across the nation. It’s a local and a national program.
BROWNIE MARIE: Absentee fatherhood has devastating effects on sons and daughters. Are female youth eligible to participate in programs such as “Father Knows Best” and F.I.S.L.L. (Faith-Integrity-Sacrifice-Leadership-Legacy)?
“Father Knows Best” came about because of my father. I realized the importance of his role in my life. By the time I became not just a professional basketball player, but in life you can be a professional in any field, I understood his impact. We wanted to offer that to other men, to other fathers, to other coaches... men who have been influential in leadership positions who have children or mentees that they are caring for. So it’s for daughters, it’s for sons, it’s for nieces, nephews... but it’s symbolic of the father and the father-figure role in our children’s lives, [and] we’ve seen statistics that show it’s so critical. I don’t think we as a society realize the importance of that role in the lives of families and communities. When that role is stripped for whatever reason, the family and the community suffers. And it’s not that the family and the community cannot make it or sustain itself, but it suffers. Our goal is to make people aware of how impactful that role is so [that men], when they prepare for fatherhood and when they’re in it, can remain equipped and be successful in it.
As a former NBA player it’s not surprising that you would use basketball as a way for men to spend quality time with these youth, but what else is it about sports and physical activity that promotes that bond?
Just having a unique way for them to be together. When you go through daily life, parents have so many dynamics: from discipline to communication, to accountability, to love, to providing... There are so many things that a parent, particularly a father, has to do. A lot of fathers may not have the time or financial capacity to do a lot of those things. So it’s a way to engage and have a bond and connection. Then you come in on a common ground. You’re coming into a fun environment, where a father or mentor is learning real basketball skills that he can teach and enjoy with, and then you have competition.
Our F.I.S.L.L. curriculum [embodies] the lessons that can be learned. Those five things are the fundamentals, and we feel like this is training for life and training for building your family. These are essential fundamentals that they [can] learn together, and they can be accountable to each other together.
Are the programs within the Foundation’s fatherhood initiative only offered during the summer or year-round?
The [F.I.S.L.L.] program is a two-month program. They come in, typically, on Saturdays for two hours, for seven to eight weeks. It’s a way for them to carve out and prioritize time, and commit to growth in their relationship and in their own personal life. Along with having a good time. You actually can measure it... we have curriculum and ways that they can go back and see where they’ve come and where they want to go as individuals and as a family.
What is the status of the Business Education and Development Program?
We’re in the process of re-engaging that program because we had some sponsors that had to drop out over the last couple of years. This fundraiser is going to hopefully allow us to re-engage that program, and get into a new class. That’s the goal.
(Last night, the Foundation presented its 2nd Annual Charity Poker Tournament. Read more about that event here.)
I wish you the best! Any final remarks?
I always like to show gratitude to my wife. We have seven beautiful children, and there’s no way I could be doing this without her commitment to being an awesome mother and wife. I just like to always make sure that she gets her due credit for allowing me to be a father.
For more information on the Allan Houston and the Allan Houston Legacy Foundation, visit www.AllanHouston.com.