Playing through adversity

By Jessica Johnson-Petty
February 27, 2012

With her eyes focused on a grander goal, Leithie Lynette Faison, lives life in laughter and plays basketball as an outlet with passion for a lost loved one.

Unlike many other college basketball players, Faison did not play basketball for the majority of her life. She simply admired from afar. Faison fell in love with basketball as a sport as she grew up watching the Philadelphia 76ers games with “Papa Bear”, her stepfather.

“Me and Papa Bear always watched the Sixers and I grew a love for them and for Allen Iverson, who I am married to, I have all of his jerseys and his rookie card,” Faison said jokingly.

Even though she didn’t try out for a basketball team until sixth grade, her family knew that she would be the most athletic of all her siblings.

Faison would have never thought that basketball would become more emotional than fun.

The basketball journey was rough; Faison was cut from her basketball team in sixth grade after she made the junior varsity team. She did not make the team at all in the seventh grade and in eighth grade, she only played half the year. However freshman year of high school she made the team and played all through high school until she got cut in her senior year.

These obstacles did not stop her from doing what she loved.

Not knowing exactly which social route to take, once at Cabrini College, Faison started playing pick-up with the women’s basketball team. She followed her heart like she had since sixth grade, tried out for the team, and became part of the family.

Faison describes the women’s basketball team, like many sports teams, as family. With every family, they have their ups and downs.

“One day we all can be the greatest of friends and have some of the best times,” Faison said. “But then there are other days you just kind of want to, you know kill on another, or rip each other’s heads off or whatever term you want to use.”

Ultimately, Faison keeps her life in perspective. “Basketball and my future goals, has no goal. I play basketball mainly for fun,” Faison said.

Majoring in political science and philosophy, Faison aspires to pursue a career as a sports and entertainment lawyer. For now, she pushes the ball and focuses her studies for someone deeply embedded in her heart.

This someone is Charles. On the court and off of the court, the number that she wears has a greater meaning than a screen-printed jersey. Putting all jokes aside, Faison tells the story behind her number.

“When it comes to a sport and you have to pick a number, most people just kind of like pick a number without any type of meaning or any type of  significance, they just wanted to pick it because they liked it,” Faison said.

When a player was already wearing number 11, she had to choose from a pile of left over numbers. She desired number 11 because it was her number throughout high school. Ironically, number 33 was in the pile.

“It happened to be my best friend’s number and so I said to myself, I’ll wear number 33, if anything, I’ll just switch it when the number that I want is available.”

Inside jokes were shared and a bond between two very close friends became even tighter when they both wore the same number. “TreTre” bracelets were worn and the bond was forever unbreakable.

Then, tragedy struck.

“This summer my best friend died in a motorcycle accident. So 33 for me, at that point I knew it meant a lot more. So everyday I step on the court, it’s not that I have something to prove. Everyday I have to do that not only for me but to represent Charles, who is no longer here with me, because he’s my best friend. Number 33 means so much to me.”

Through her endeavors, Faison has support from her family and her friends who are there for her as well as she being there for them.

“Her personality captures, her competiveness is true.  Leithie is committed, dedicated and the perfectionist- our youngest of three has a spirit of ‘High Standards’,” Faison mother said.

When Faison is not on the count she stands passionately watching the game.

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Jessica Johnson-Petty

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