Former New York Knicks guard Allan Houston retired from the NBA years ago, but his important job as a role model for young men is ongoing. When he’s not acting as assistant general manager for the New York Knicks organization, Houston is working hard with his Allan Houston Legacy Foundation. The foundation focuses on mentoring and relationship building between fathers and sons.
Houston, a father of seven children himself, was named father of the year by the National Fatherhood Initiative in 2007, and has also received the President’s Council on Service and Civic Engagement Award from the Obama administration.
Houston’s Legacy Foundation has an important program called Father Knows Best, a retreat that provides basketball clinics for fathers, mentors, and sons meant to help them “obtain a new dimension to their relationships.” The father/son duos are able to participate and grow while improving their basketball skills along with quality time and bonding through unique educational workshops. This experience is a catalyst for building father-son relationships that help both father and son grow as individuals.
Playing under his coach and father Wade Houston during his college years at the University of Tennessee, Houston kept a close eye on his father and learned lessons about developing a strong work ethic and the proper treatment of the people around him. Those valuable lessons helped Houston excel once he became an NBA star.
Houston has said that those years under his father’s close watch gave him the inspiration to share these lessons with other young men, stating: “The relationship between a father and son is so important — it’s no secret that our young men today need strong male figures, whether it’s a grandfather, step-dad, neighbor or mentor. We need our children to have solid foundations based on an empowered spiritual relationship and positive self-recognition.”
Houston related in a recent interview something that we all too often hear, namely that “in the African American community, you know, having a strong male figure is rare and I just didn’t want to buy into that. And I wanted other people to know that it shouldn’t be an anomaly, it should be a standard.” The Father Knows Best basketball retreat is meant to bring fathers and mentors together to empower men in general, and solve this problem.
“This fatherhood issue is huge. It’s like the elephant in the room that nobody wants to talk about and deal with,” Houston has stated. With a third of kids in the United States living without their biological fathers, it is clear that Houston’s efforts are of critical importance. Fatherless homes are more likely to have children who are high school dropouts as well as children who suffer from substance abuse and mental health and behavioral problems. Young men are in need of positive male role models and a father figure is essential to proper development.
“A lot of societal issues would be helped if we had men who had [a good] example at home,” Houston believes.
In addition to the basketball retreat, which is active in all five boroughs of New York City, the former pro-baller runs a seven-week program called FISLL, which stands for faith, integrity, sacrifice, leadership and legacy. Houston’s programs may have basketball as a focal point, but that instruction only serves to create a space where men learn the fundamentals of manhood beyond just the fundamentals of the sport. Houston hopes the lessons learned will last a lifetime.
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