Take a quick minute to ask Bo Talley-Williams what she appreciates the most about Christina Granville (better known as the vibrant and multi-talented, Ms. Basketball), and the founder and creator of the annual charity and celebrity basketball game, Balling 4 Lupus, will automatically show some love to a basketball player that has essentially become family these past six years.
“That’s my little sister…we are so lucky to have her on the court and taking part in helping us raise awareness and support for the fight against Lupus,” said Talley-Williams, with the 6th annual Balling 4 Lupus charity game taking place on Sunday, May 26 at the Riverside Epicenter in Austell, Georgia.
The week before stepping on the court sporting the newest Wooter Apparel jersey for the game, Ms. Basketball took time to both look back on her own personal journey through the game. From growing up around the game in Florida and overcoming some athletic obstacles in the Midwest, Christina shares how she rediscovered a passion for the game of basketball that earned her both a college scholarship and helped shape her current career in branding, marketing, as a social media influencer, and as a media personality around the basketball world.
Through it all, Ms. Basketball remains married to the game. On and off of the court, she remains an inspiration and is ready to inspire the next generation of young lady basketball players (did we mention she’s preparing to host a 3-Day Basketball Camp in Montgomery, Alabama with the WABA’s Montgomery Lady Magic?) as she heads into the 6th Annual Balling 4 Lupus game on Sunday…
It's hard to believe the Balling 4 Lupus event is back already. How excited are you to get back on the floor and why is it so important for you to take part in this charity basketball game to help raise awareness and support for the fight against Lupus?
I am super excited to be able to share my energy and support with such a great organization. This will be my 6th year participating in this game and I can’t wait.
This is such a great cause and event run by Bo Talley-Williams and Frank Williams with a number of talented players taking the floor. For those not familiar with your own game, can you share a little bit about your journey from growing up in Clewiston, Flordia to eventually playing college basketball at St. Leo's University?
Wow, growing up in a small town such as Clewiston Florida (population 7,720), basketball became my happy place and my "get out of church free card" (laugh)! I used to watch my brother dominate guys on the court and I said, “If he can do it..I can do it too...”, so I started trying to play with him and the guys. I went from playing basketball with my big brother in a next door neighbor carport, to playing in middle school, to being Varsity Girls Basketball player all 4 years in high school, to receiving a full scholarship to play basketball in Independence Kansas, where things came to a halt.
I was told that I wasn’t good enough to play college basketball. Talk about crushed! But God had other plans! Although my dreams of playing college basketball was put on hold I continued to run track and did pretty well. I was 11th in the nation in long jump and 10th in the nation in high jump. To some, they said I was better in track than basketball, however, my heart was always focused on the game of basketball! After my two years of being there, I figured if I couldn’t play basketball, well I don’t want to go to school so I moved back to Florida and basically lived life as a "brand ambassador" and model for the next 4 years. Even though I wasn’t on a professional or college team I still played basketball almost everyday.
From Rec centers, to outdoor courts, to community games, to summer leagues teams, to celebrity basketball games, basketball stuck with me. It stuck with me so much that while playing in an old school versus new school charity basketball game, my game caught the attention of an NBA scout who helped me get back into school.
Within one week of meeting him, he had 4-5 colleges ready to talk with me about coming to play at their school. And by the end of the summer I received a full scholarship to play at Jefferson College in Missouri at the age of 25-years old.
I became the captain of the team and broke a record of having 22 rebounds in one game. From there I transferred to Saint Leo University where I graduated with my BS in Business Management.
Growing up in a big family as you did it can be feast or famine, particularly when it comes to athletics. You have mentioned before that your older brother Jeff really pushed you to become a better player. In what ways did he feed your passion for the game?
He really just taught me how to be fearless, not to doubt myself, or talk about myself in a negative light. If I wanted to be a good basketball player I had to be tough I had to be strong and I had to be relentless and that’s what he taught me.
On your college basketball bio, you wrote that your goal was to "compete in the WNBA until she is 72 years old and own an advertising firm". Since graduating in 2013, you have really crossed your game over -- modeling, TV, movies, radio, and as a social media influencer -- and essentially have become your own "advertising firm". How would you describe these last seven years of really growing your own career from the ground up?
Oh wow. It’s really been seven years! Wow, these past seven years have went by very very fast. Within that time I have grown so much -- from being a sign spinner on the side of the road to selling knifes door to door, to hosting Essence Festival three-times in a row, to hosting a dunk contest on ESPN (and showing off her crossover game in heels), and so much more. If I had to choose a word to describe the past seven years it would be, BLESSED.
To think about how far I have come, especially starting on a blank canvas it’s motivation to myself to actually see the growth. It’s been so many times to where things didn’t go as planned or it just seemed as if I wasn’t doing enough and as soon as I was about to say “You know what... just forget about it!".
God always worked things out. I mean, He’s still working things out right now as we speak!! Sometimes I look back after an event or gig and say to myself, “Wow...that really just happened...wow... this is amazing!"
I’m forever grateful for how my career is going. I mean I’m the captain of my career. I get paid to be ME and to share my energy and experience with the world and through the game that I love!
What's the one piece of advice you can share with other female college basketball players explore their career options after school -- whether that is on or off of the court?
Follow your HEART!!! Whatever you are passionate about, DO THAT!!! Your passion will become your paycheck! Seriously! Stay true to who you are and go after everything you want!
So, this is now the third year that Wooter Apparel has designed and created these jerseys and uniforms in hopes of making them as special as the Balling 4 Lupus charity game itself...what do you remember the most about your very first basketball jersey or slipping on that St. Leo's jersey for the last time?
I remember being so excited for the next chapter of my life! My last time putting on a St. Leo jersey was bittersweet. It was a reminder that I followed my heart and it lead me to this very moment! It was one of the best feelings!
What kind of game can we expect from you when you ladies hit the floor on Sunday at Balling 4 Lupus?
You can expect a lot of ENERGY! A lot of dancing, and a lot of BUCKETS! It’s so much fun playing with these group of women and being able to do so in front of so many strong survivors and Lupus fighters. You can expect a good show!