Shifting priority from basketball to community engagement has been fulfilling for Francis Atta.
After a knee injury cut short a promising basketball career, Atta changed focus and it has paid off admirably.
One of 12 children, the young man admits he only started using his key to unlock his potential a few years ago after stumbling through high school and wasting the next four years after graduation. While he was an outstanding basketball player in school, Atta’s academics suffered to the point where he was averaging 25 per cent in at least three subjects in Grades 11 and 12.
“I skipped classes and homework was not a priority,” he said. “My focus was just on basketball.”
Following the injury, Atta recognized that education was the key to success. His GPA rose to 3.88, he started attending church and he established KEYS (Knowledge and Effort Yield Success) to encourage young people to strive to overcome obstacles and “No Colour No Blood” through which he organizes multicultural programs.
Atta was recently honoured for his community involvement with the Community Champion Award at the third annual African Entertainment Awards.
“I am humbled to be the recipient of this great honour,” said Atta who is set to release a book about his life next month.
The Jane & Finch resident graduated at the top of his class from the George Brown College Child & Youth Worker program and last year returned to Ghana – the land of his birth – for the first time since migrating two decades ago.
A year ago, Atta – at age 26 – was the youngest ever recipient of the Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Award.