The Road to Memphis

By Damaria Franklin

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The road to becoming a Tiger all started with my dad.

Growing up, I have fond memories of him playing basketball.

I particularly remember his energy and work ethic that inspired me to pursue my best self through the game of basketball.

That road has taken me through some challenging situations and a long journey through four different schools in as many years, but I’m finally home here in Memphis, and I wouldn’t trade this for anything.

Multiple stops

Getting to where I’m at wasn’t an easy task.

I took a road less traveled.

My dream and goal has always been clear; I wanted to play for a top DI program and go to the NBA.

When it came time for recruitment, I didn’t get any of those big school offers at first, though.

It was disappointing, but I wasn’t defeated.

It just let me know I had work to do, and I’m okay putting in the work.

So, I headed to State Fair Community College, focused on showing everyone I deserved a bigger opportunity.

At State Fair, I still had to play in a system and be a team player. That’s tough to do when in the back of your head, you’re thinking of the next move, you know?

It was a reminder that even at a two-year institution, it has to be we before me.

I honed my craft and got a bigger opportunity at Tennessee Tech.

Getting a shot at a DI school was fantastic, but, to be honest, not where I wanted my final destination to be.

I knew I had what it takes to compete at the highest level, and I wanted an opportunity to test that theory.

After a season at Tennessee Tech and another at UIC, coach Penny and Memphis finally gave me the opportunity I was looking for, and I jumped at the chance to play here at Memphis.

This was the moment I had worked my whole life for, and it was even sweeter than I thought it’d be.

I proved the doubters and skeptics wrong. I was always on the right track, just not on my final stop, and now I’ve arrived where I always belonged.

That road has taken me through some challenging situations and a long journey through four different schools in as many years, but I’m finally home here in Memphis, and I wouldn’t trade this for anything.

Star in your role

One thing I learned through all these years at different schools is you can always be a star in your role.

I’ve been the focal point of the offense and the player just playing a role, and in both scenarios, you can do positive things to help the team win, and, at the end of the day, that’s all that matters.

If you win, the rest of it solves itself.

The team goal is the main goal, take care of everyone else, and they’ll take care of you.

This is a mentality I have that I take tremendous pride in.

You can have your opinions of me, but one thing you cannot say is that I didn’t do what was asked of me or that I wasn’t giving 110%.

As long as I can do that, I’ll live with the results.

Memphis goals

In my lone season here, I have one simple goal — help Memphis go on a deep tourney run.

Whatever it takes, I’m ready!

I’m here for the training, breaking down film, and working with my teammates to optimize our play.

I don’t care if I play 2 or 22 minutes; I’m going to be locked in and going 100 miles per hour the moment I step on the court.

That’s what I’m here to do.

Make this team better, make myself better.

When it comes to making myself better, it’s really about being coachable. Listening to what Coach Penny and the staff say, trust their judgment, and understand that they are here to support me in all ways. They’ve built a great culture, and the facilities here are world-class, so good things will happen if I do my part.

Closing time

It’s unreal to me that my college journey is nearing its end. There is more behind me than in front of me, but I’m blessed that every dream and goal I had when I was just a kid at the park watching my father play is still in front of me.

I play DI ball, and I can still make the league.

But for now, I’m just so excited to experience it with all of you here inside the FedExForum.

And with my work ethic, a positive attitude, and this supportive community, anything is possible.

Let’s go Memphis!

One final ride.