Having a career as an athlete is something many dream of. For others, it’s an opportunity toward better ventures.
For Frank Russell, playing just one season in the NBA helped pave the way for opportunities in Pontiac and throughout the US and the World.
“Basketball was a vehicle for greater things,” Russell said.
It all started with playing sports at the park around the corner with his brothers, Conus, Aaron, Ted, Campy and Larry.
“We were active year-round playing hockey, baseball, football, and basketball,” Russell said. “But we didn’t specialize in a sport (basketball) until high school.”
"Even when there was snow on the ground, me and my brothers would shovel it off the court and play a game.”
Russell comes from a deep basketball bloodline. His mother was an all-state player in Denmark, Tennessee in 1938. His other brothers, Campy and Walker, played in the NBA as well. One of his most memorable games was a nationally televised contest against then-No. 1 Marquette in 1972. Russell had a triple double for Detroit-Mercy in that game as the Titans upset Marquette by 20 points.
After his one season with the Bulls, he went back to school and graduated from college. He spent five years at the Pontiac Police Department as a counselor for juvenile offenders.
“I’ve had a lot of kids come back and tell me how I turned their lives around,” Russell said. Russell attributes his preparation for basketball afterlife to his parents Jake & Mary Russell, his two older sisters Mary E (a 1952 Graduate of Lane College in Jackson Tenn), Rachel and his coach at Detroit-Mercy, Jim Harding and Ben Bluitt.
“There was nothing I wasn’t prepared for,” Russell said. “He helped me master the game offensively and defensively.”
Now, he works at the Oakland County Department for human resources and publishes his own publication, The Pontiac News.
One of the goals with the publication is to cater to the Pontiac area and its surrounding communities by raising awareness on specific issues of today and providing a forum.
The advice he has for younger generations regarding their dreams is simple. “Set goals and have a plan to achieve those goals,” Russell said. “Most people don’t set plans for their goals.”