Former University of Tennessee and National Basketball Association great Allan Houston wowed students at Alcoa Middle School recently when he spoke with them during an assembly in the school gym. He was accompanied by his father, coach Wade Houston, who grew up in Alcoa and went to school at Charles M. Hall school.
The 450 students from the sixth, seventh and eighth grade classes cheered and clapped as Allan led them in explaining a maxim that would help them in life.
“What I learned from my father helped me be a great basketball player. It is also the basics that help you win in life,” he said. “We have a word -- it’s called FISLL (pronounced “fizzle”). It’s an acronym.”
Houston said “F” is for Faith. “If you don’t believe in yourself, not a lot of people will believe in you,” he said.
“I” is for integrity. “It’s a word I learned a long time ago from my father. He’s a man of character. He can be trusted. Can your friends, parents, teachers trust you to do what’s right? Can you trust yourself to do the right thing?” he said.
“S” is for sacrifice. “Some asked how hard is it to play in the NBA. Not only has God blessed us with gifts, but many in the NBA have worked so hard. You have to be the one who sacrifices,” he said.
“L” is for leadership. “It’s hard to be a leader,” he said. “A leader is being a good example.”
“L” is for legacy. “It’s what you leave behind,” he said. “That’s your legacy.”
Houston encouraged the students to be people who live with integrity. “If you are, there’s no limit to where you can go,” he said.
Houston, currently the assistant to the president for basketball operations for the New York Knicks, spends much of his time helping different charity and non-profit organizations.
Houston was born in Louisville, Ky, and played at Ballard High School in Louisville, Ky., and he helped them win the 1988 Kentucky state championship. He went on to play under his coach and father, Wade Houston, at the University of Tennessee.
Allan graduated in 1993 as the school’s leading scorer and is currently second to former Vol basketball player Chris Lofton for three-point field goals made. He played in the NBA from 1993 to 2005. He began his career with the Detroit Pistons from 1993 to 1996 before he went to the New York Knicks where he helped lead the team to the NBA finals in 1999.
Houston also made the All-Star team in 2000 and 2001. He won a gold medal as a member of the 2000 men’s basketball team at the Sydney Olympics. Houston retired in 2005 as one of the most prolific scorers in Knicks history.