So at one point I was flying a lot for work and as a result I would often get upgraded to first class. This happened one time on a return trip from Las Vegas and I found myself next to Steve Francis.
I do not make a big deal of celebrities, mostly because I feel they do not need to be engaged by anyone who happens to recognize them anywhere they go.
But I am not going to avoid small talk, either, and certainly not when my seatmate starts shaking his head and saying “Vegas, man.” Because I know the feeling.
Thus without any real introduction, we just get to chatting a little bit about our trips to Sin City, who we were with, and what we got up to.
At one point he expresses surprise that my wife would let me travel to Las Vegas by myself. I remarked that Nina was pregnant with our first child and I wanted to make the trip while I could.
“Your girl’s pregnant? My girl’s pregnant!” he says with genuine enthusiasm. “Boy or a girl?”
“A girl,” I say.
“I’m having a girl!” he says with elation, loving the coincidence.
“What’s your name, man?” he asks, not knowing we share a namesake.
But I do, and so I grin a little and tell him “Steve.”
“MY NAME IS STEVE!” he replies, echoing the cosmic forces that have brought us together on this flight, and my grin grows to full beam.
I am reminded of this story because of the truly touching memoir by Steve Francis that The Players’ Tribune published this week.
Our casual connection on that flight had nowhere near the emotional depth that Steve Francis shares with the world in that piece, but I can tell you that the same love of life and appreciation of his circumstances came through in our brief chat.
At one point during the flight, he got out of his seat, took out a small super squirter, and hit his friends that were sitting right behind us in coach. He was like a big kid.
I’m quite certain that he would be a blast to hang out with in Las Vegas. He sure made the flight back memorable.
Here’s to you, Stevie Franchise.