Phoenix Suns power forward, Channing Frye couldn’t wait for this year’s NBA season to begin. Last year after a preseason physical, Channing found out that he had an enlarged heart. Frye was told he couldn’t play. It was tough news for him to digest, but he didn’t let that slow him down.
In his year hiatus from the NBA, Frye spent time with his family, did some traveling, and had time to do some personal reflection. Frye also started up the “One Heart” T-shirt campaign for his foundation, the Frye Family Foundation. Proceeds from the sale of these shirts will go to two charities, the Phoenix Children’s Hospital and Portland’s Providence “Play Smart” Youth Heart Screenings. You can purchase the shirts here!
Channing and his wife are blessed with two kids, Hendrix and Margeaux. His daughter, Margeaux was born with cataracts and was basically blind for the first eight weeks of her life. She had to go through a bunch of surgeries last summer. The good news is that she is better and so is daddy.
Now that the NBA season is in full swing Channing is happier than a kid at Christmas. He gets to be back with his teammates and play the game he loves. I was able to talk with Channing right before the season got underway. Channing spoke with me about his time off the court, his preparation for this year, fatherhood, and we even chatted about his sneaker collection.
Art Eddy: So the start of this season is really special for you since you didn’t know if you would be cleared to play since you found out that you had CHD last year. Can you put into words your feelings and emotions you have as you get ready to play this season?
Channing Frye: I think the first thing is accomplishment. There was some encouraging information of what I had at that time and was told I would be able to play again. I just felt in my heart and my soul that I wasn’t done yet.
I scoured the country to find the best doctors and information for what I have and here I am. The second thing is the camaraderie with my teammates. I love being a part of the Phoenix Suns organization. I know that a lot of people are saying that we are rebuilding, but for me I take a lot of pride being in this uniform. Being from Phoenix I really want to help the team out to do the best that we can.
A championship is a pretty high and lofty goal. Playoffs are pretty high and lofty also, but I think we can come out and compete every night. For me I want to be part of this rebuilding group.
AE: It must have been tough not playing last year. What did you do last year to help take your mind off of basketball?
CF: I traveled a lot. I did a lot of yoga. For me it was spending a lot of time with my family. It wasn’t so much taking my mind off of it, but it was doing things that in the long run it was doing things that could make me a healthy as I possibly could.
I think laughter is something that always helps. For me I have not been around my family that much consistently, so I was very excited. A lot of guys don’t know what it is like to be around their family all the time. With basketball we sometimes put ourselves first. To have a year where I put my family first and know that I am okay with that and I can do that as a man, a father, and a husband really gave me the confidence to come back and be comfortable with playing and doing the best I can on the court.
CF: That helps me a lot. I appreciate that Jeff says that out loud. I think he sees me day in and day out. It is tough getting back after taking a year off. For me, I have expectations of what I can do and how I can help out the team. I am just so hungry to help and be the player I know I can be. I want to be that now. As we all know everything is a day to day thing. Every day I try to do the best I can and get better.
AE: Are there any games in particular that you are looking forward to the most this season?
CF: Any game that I have to start. (Both laugh.) Anytime we will play Portland. I live up there and that was the last team I played for. I love the city of Portland. So for me anytime playing them and since I know those guys it will always be an exciting time for me.
AE: This is kind of a basketball related question. I am a sneakerhead and I want to know what pair of sneakers you play in on the court and which ones you rock off the court.
CF: I play in the Kobe VI’s. They just seem to fit my feet perfectly. I don’t know if I like the new ones too much. So Nike is going to send me some new shoes to try out.
At home I’ll be honest, it just depends on my outfit. I just got a shipment. I love the Jordan II’s. I love those. The Foamposites, like all those and I think I want to say the Jordan XIII’s.
AE: The ones with the hologram known as the “black panther” shoe right?
CF: Yeah. Those are the ones I rock pretty much all the time. Those and Vans.
AE: I love the work you are doing with your foundation. You have a great shirt called “One Heart” to help spread awareness about heart disease. Tell me a bit about how you started that up.
CF: The biggest thing that I have learned about my foundation is that is has always changes with me. I am always trying to work with other foundations. I am trying to do things that are fun for everyone. No offense to other foundations that do this, but going to kind of stiff events where people have to wear suits and begging people for money is not my style.
My foundation is about giving back. I think a lot of times no one looks at the young adults between the ages of 22 and 35. That is the age group where if they can start to make an impact, the older the get the more successful they get, they will be like I had fun doing this event I do want to give back. They might be like hey instead of giving back $50 I might give $500. Instead of giving $500 I might give $5,000.
Other than last year I have done a kick ball tournament. I have done a golf tournament. This year with my “One Heart” shirt I started last year I took some time off because if I can’t put 100 percent into something I am not going to do it. It might sound weird, but I want to put my all into it.
Right now we are in talks with the Phoenix Children’s Hospital and in talks with another hospital out in Portland. So for everyone who buys a “One Heart” shirt it is going toward kids. It brings awareness to heart disease and help those kids with heart ailments.
AE: Tell me a bit about your family and how fatherhood has changed you?
CF: I don’t think we have enough time in the day to tell me how much fatherhood has changed me. I think for me being in the NBA and going through what I have gone through in my life I was inherently kind of selfish. I think that happens. You are always thinking about what your body is telling you or what you needed or what I have to do. There was a lot of I in there.
I think for guys who have kids will say that I am doing this for my family. I don’t know if basketball was taken away if they would still do things for their family. For me, I really do play for my family. I think one big motivating factor was when I thought things were down and for me to continue to grow I thought of my daughter. I wanted her to see who I am as a player and who I am as a man.
I want to her see to not give up. My daughter was born with cataracts and was basically blind for the first eight weeks of her life. We had to go through a bunch of surgeries last summer even before I found out that I had a heart issue. For me not giving up on her and doing for her that I would do for myself is showing me how much I love my family.
I would do anything for them. I always prayed that God would make her healthy and that give that on me. She is innocent. She is perfect. I feel like I could take this. I am strong enough to do this for the family. I would say be careful for what you pray for, but go figure. After that I had the heart issue. I think that it gave me time to be with my family and learn a lot about them.
CF: Oh yeah. My wife is an absolute saint. She knows that this life is very short lived and does the best job I ever seen. She makes sure the kids watch all my games and she watches them with our friends and family. My interaction with them is extremely important. She also knows that this is business and I get pretty serious on game day. We Skype on days that I have off when I have long road trips, but on game days it is like zero contact with the outside world.
AE: What are some values that you want to instill in your son and daughter?
CF: Appreciate (things.) I don’t know how this is going to sound, nor do I care. When I grew up both my parents worked. They showed me a sense of values for things that other people didn’t have. Me being in my financial situation with the NBA, it is going to be very tough for me to show my kids how to appreciate things. I want them to appreciate things. I want them to appreciate the opportunities that they have and the things that I have worked so hard for. That would be the first thing.
Number two is that I want my kids to love each other. I want my kids to love, each other and other people. Even if they don’t know them I want them to respect them and love them enough to give them the respect that they deserve.
I want my kids and my family to just have fun. Life is short and it could be taken away in the blink of an eye. For me and my wife I think that we have found that when you laugh and are having fun it makes things so much more memorable. Life is hard at times and if you can laugh even for five minutes. Look at something funny or watch a video that is funny like someone farting or something. (Both laugh.) It will cheer you up. Everyone loves a good fart joke.
CF: One of is “Let go and Let God.” It is kind of dark. At that time I was transitioning between two places. I had never been traded. I was coming from a team that wasn’t that good and was going somewhere else. I was just an angel stepping forward. We all are angels. It is just a matter of if we are going to take a step forward and accept the responsibility of doing what is right and trying to live the right way. I wouldn’t say that I am living the right way 100 percent of the time, but I am just trying.
The other tattoo is just a set of stairs with a word on each step like selfishness, happiness, doubt, fear, and hate. These are all things that you have to get over. You have to get over yourself. You can’t always be right. You don’t always want to be right. Being wrong is going to actually help you become a better person. You look at any genius. Look at anyone who as ever invented something, they have one hundred wrongs to their one absolutely awesome right.
You have to get over doubt. You have to know in your heart that you are supposed to be out there and you are doing everything that you can. In my case it is to be the best player that you can be every day. You go down the line with fear and happiness. You can’t always do things that make you happy. Do I want to run and do sprints? Do I want to shoot 200 to 300 times a day? No, but I know that is what I need to do to get better. So for me every time that I look at a tattoo that I have I always know that there is a reason for it. I wouldn’t have put it there permanently if it wasn’t important to me.