Brush With Death Gives Ball Player Perspective

By Alejandra Magallanes and Tyler Urke in Sports

As the bullet burned through his shoulder, Franklin Norman made the decision to change his life.

Last October Norman was riding in a car with a friend through north Portland when he said his friend decided to stop by a house to pick up some money. Norman chose to keep warm and wait in the car.

As he sat in the passenger seat, Norman saw a figure approaching the house.

Seconds later, as shots rang out, Norman bolted toward the house for cover.

As he burst through the door and up the stairs to the second floor, a .45-caliber bullet slammed through his shoulder, grazing his neck.

Portland Police are still investigating the shooting.

The point guard said his life will never be the same.

“The doctors said I was lucky and blessed to be alive,” Norman said. “It’s changed my view of a lot of things.”

The shooting brought him closer to his family and his girlfriend, he said. The couple is expecting a girl in April.

“I’m just waiting patiently,” Norman said about becoming a father. “I’m already worried about a lack of sleep.”

The experience has prompted him to reevaluate his choices and who he spends time with, Norman said. He even chose Clark specifically to avoid negative pressures he might face in Portland.

Penguin head coach Alex Kirk said he recruited Norman from Benson High School because he was “aggressive” and “quick with the ball.”

But he hasn’t seen consistent minutes this season.

“I was difficult to coach at the beginning of the year,” Norman said. “At times I was lazy and coach would take me out of games.”

But teammates TJ Brumfield and sophomore Max Livingston rave about Norman’s improved play. Brumfield has noticed Norman’s improved work ethic and Livingston is excited to see where Norman will go with basketball.

Norman averaged 5.5 points per game in 21 of 25 regular season games but scored a season-high 17 in a game against Portland Community College on Nov. 23.

Norman has straightened up in the classroom as well.

Joshua Hall, who also plays for the Penguins, said he would often joke around in music class with Norman, but in the weeks after the shooting Norman took the class more seriously.

Norman aspires to be the first in his family to graduate with a college degree. Afterwards, he hopes he’ll have an opportunity to play professionally in China.

“Everybody has the dream of playing in the NBA but as you get older you realize the chances of that happening are not likely,” Norman said. He considers China a good alternative because they pay well and it gives him a chance to play professionally.

If pro ball isn’t calling his name, he’d be interested in coaching or becoming a broadcaster.

Norman isn’t sure of his future career path but one thing Norman is sure about is the environment his daughter will grow up in.

Religion has played a big part in his life. He regularly attends a church near his home in Portland and says his daughter will be taught right from wrong.

The freshly healed bullet wound on one arm opposes a tattoo of praying hands on the other, a constant reminder of his transition from one life to another.

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