Handles Franklin had many positive role models growing up – first and foremost being his parents. His father was a police officer, and his mother worked at a hospital. “They both served the community and passed that mentality on to me,” says Handles. He also credits his high school coach, Bill Gaffey, for setting him on the right path. “He taught me that education was very important. He wouldn't let me play when my grades were poor, and that lesson changed my thought process.”
Handles studied hard and went on to Lock Haven University (Pa.), where he used his keen ball handling ability to finish his career second on the school’s all-time assist list and fifth on the all-time steals list. He finished in the top 10 in the nation in assists and steals twice in his college career.
Watching the Globetrotters in animation in the 1970s when he was growing up was how Handles was introduced to the game, and he is humbled that he is part of such an iconic organization. “I’ve wanted to be a Globetrotter since I was a kid,” says Handles. “I’m truly living a dream.”
He put himself on the map in numerous television commercials from 2000-2004, free-styling with other basketball stars like Paul Pierce and Vince Carter. The mind-blowing talent he displayed in those commercials was part of what brought him to the Globetrotters’ attention.
In addition to his ball-handling, Handles is also pretty good at trick shots. In fact, he once set a Guinness World Record for the furthest kneeling basketball shot made backward from over 60 feet away from the basketball hoop in 2015.
Handles, who has been to all 50 U.S. states, loves the reactions he and his teammates get when traveling the world. Millions know the Globetrotters around the world, but on a rare occasion, the Globetrotters will encounter a fan meeting them for the first time. Handles explains, “As I was walking through the Sydney airport in Australia wearing my red, white and blue Globetrotters jersey, a little girl came up to me and said, ‘Look, Mommy, it’s Superman. Are you Superman?’ ”
Superman probably doesn’t have a fear of little crawling creatures, though, as Handles admits. “Even a cute little gecko lizard sent me running from the locker room when we were in Guam,” Handles says with a laugh.