Above and beyond: Dalton State junior using basketball platform to help others

Matt Hamilton/Daily Citizen-News

Kingston Frazier is a junior on the Dalton State College men's basketball team. He was recently honored for starting a summer basketball league in his hometown to help curb gun violence.

DALTON, Ga. — Dalton State College’s Kingston Frazier, a junior basketball player, does not seek the spotlight.

But Frazier wanted change for the better for people like him. Young men that Frazier knows from his hometown in Opelika, Alabama, may not have the same opportunities he does as a guard for the Roadrunners, but he wanted to make their lives better.

“The relationship between me and Kingston — we love each other so much,” Frazier’s childhood friend Jared Roberts said. “He always tells me when I’m wrong, or he’ll tell me when I’m right. We are like brothers. He gives great advice, and he loves to help people out.”

Frazier and Roberts grew up playing in youth basketball leagues together and became extra close in high school.

The two split when Frazier went off to play basketball at Enterprise State Community College in Enterprise, Alabama, and Roberts moved to Livingston, Alabama, to attend the University of West Alabama. Throughout everything, they remained connected.

“Right before going into the summer last year, he started sending me a bunch of pictures,” Roberts said.

Those pictures included the budding idea for one of Frazier’s most thoughtful gestures to date.

One photo was a spreadsheet labeled at the top — Cavaliers, Celtics, Lakers and Warriors. These would be the team names for the basketball league Frazier started for young men ages 18 to 25 last summer in Opelika. Frazier named the teams before he even had people agree to be on the teams.

“This was something that he just thinks of and he has always done that,” Roberts said. “I don’t know where it comes from. Sometimes it gets me nervous because you never know what’s coming with him.”

The motivation to start the league was to give young men an outlet other than a harsher alternative. After Frazier’s older cousin, Cedric Parker, was killed in an act of gun violence in February of 2018, he knew something had to be done.

Parker was 30 and died from a single gunshot wound in Opelika’s neighboring city of Auburn.

“I just got a call late night from my mom,” Frazier said. “That’s when she told me. I cried. That’s the only thing I really could do.”

Frazier said although the league did have a great deal of success in its first year, he doesn’t necessarily think he’s special.

Last year’s league had four teams with 10 players each and was held in the gymnasium at the Covington Recreation Center where Frazier played as a child.

“I originally had a bunch of people bail on me and I was about to give up,” he said. “Probably toward the end of May, the beginning of June, I finally had everything set.”

Frazier, though he started the league, credits a long list of people who helped make it happen, the first his father who has been a high school referee for 15 years and helped him organize the location and officiating for the games.

“One of the main things about Kingston, he has tremendous work ethic,” Terrence Frazier said. “Not only that, but he listens, and he is going to work at whatever it is until he gets it right. One thing I always tried to show my kids was if you want something in life you have to work for it. Most people won’t just give you things.”

Terrence Frazier and Frazier’s mother, Taneisha, accepted a recent award on his behalf while he was away at college. Frazier was awarded the Young MLK Community Service Award given by the National Forum for Black Public Administrators — East Central Alabama Chapter in January.

“I didn’t get anything from the league,” Frazier said. “No money, nothing. But I didn’t expect to get something like that because it seemed so simple at first. It was just a basketball league, but to see how much it meant to all the people was crazy.”

Terrence Frazier said he was most proud of the league’s impact on the community.

“I always taught (my children) to work hard, not just on the basketball court, but for him to do something with that kind of return feels really good,” he said. “I don’t think it’s just a one-year thing. Once it was over this past summer lots of people were already saying they were looking forward to it again. It is something big. We had great turnouts every night.”

Kingston Frazier said it was support from people he had met throughout his life that helped him make jerseys, schedule dates and organize the logistics, only solidifying the reasoning behind why he felt qualified to make the league happen.

“Everyone kind of knows me as a basketball kid,” he said. “That’s why a lot of people didn’t want me to go down another route. I had the support of the whole community. There really were games where there wasn’t room in the stands and people had to stand all around the gym.”

He intended to organize some things for this summer’s league when he recently traveled home during spring break.

Mother Nature had other plans.

A tornado in early March that took the lives of 23 people in Lee County, Alabama, swept by just a few minutes from Frazier’s home. His grandmother, Earnestine Reese, survived the storm, though her house laid in pieces around her in a small town close by.

Seven members of his family weren’t as fortunate, all cousins of his mother losing their lives.

Instead of spending his spring break on a beach or out with friends, Frazier spent it helping his family clean up at his grandmother’s house, where he grew up in a trailer on the same property until the age of 10.

“I don’t want to say I am her favorite grandchild, but her and I have a special bond,” he said. “I was waiting for the call to make sure she was OK. Despite everything that happened, she was happy to see me (through FaceTime) and still smiling and laughing.

“To lose that house was basically losing my own house. I couldn’t believe what it looked like. It’s crazy to see because it looks nothing like it did before. You have to get a whole new visual.”

Frazier said while the situation was difficult, he felt most for his mother.

“It was a hard pill to swallow for her,” he said. “But she was out there just like everyone else, trying to get everything she can like old pictures, and get the memory back like she remembers.”

Frazier said his grandmother suffered a broken hip and is recovering well after surgery. Multiple other members of his family are now living in the house with his parents.

“It’s a full house,” he said.

Frazier hopes to take his love for helping people into coaching in Opelika, though he has one more year at Dalton State until he is off to pursue his dreams. Until he devotes his heart fully to the place he’ll always call home, he said he’s happy to spend time in Dalton.

“I know when I’m here I don’t have to worry about the stuff I do when I’m home,” he said. “I’m not worried about certain types of crime. I like the environment a lot — it’s like a breakaway.”

And Dalton is sure happy to have him.

“We really place emphasis on recruiting talented players, obviously, but also recruiting good people,” Dalton State basketball coach Alex Ireland said. “I certainly don’t want to coach kids that I don’t want to be around, and I don’t want teammates to have to live and be around people they don’t want to be around, either.

“I’m conscious of what kind of people I bring into this town, and I think Kingston is such a special person. He’s so selfless. You never hear him worried about himself. He really is so willing to help others and that’s so rare these days.”

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