Editor’s note: Channing Frye, a local basketball standout who has returned to the Valley this year to play for the Suns, is planting some fantastic seeds in the Downtown Phoenix community with his CFrye Foundation. DPJ writer Danielle LeClair, Frye’s cousin, was able to sit down with the busy Suns forward in between three-pointers and playoff-implicating road trips to chat about his involvement in the community.
As if it’s not rare enough to make it to the NBA and fulfill your childhood dreams, it is even more rare to be able to do it in the city where it all began. For Channing Frye, that rarity became a reality after only four years playing professional basketball.
Frye attended St. Mary’s High School in Midtown Phoenix. During his years at St. Mary’s, Frye had no idea that he was establishing a fan base that would follow him throughout his professional career. After four years at the University of Arizona, Frye was the eighth overall draft pick in 2005 to the New York Knicks.
He would than go on to play two years with the Knicks, followed by two years with the Portland Trailblazers. Frye has since found a home with the Phoenix Suns back here in Phoenix, a city that has welcomed his return with open arms.
“It’s a great feeling, being able to return and play for the city where I grew up,” Frye says.
Upon returning to Phoenix, Frye quickly got to work laying the roots of his foundation. The multifaceted CFrye Foundation primarily focuses on youth with programs like CFrye 3 Point Health and Wellness, the CFrye Bull Dogs and Danielle’s Corner. With a different emphasis in each program, the goal throughout all remains as consistent as Frye’s three-point shot: self-esteem.
“We’re now moving to get the CFrye 3 Point Health and Wellness Program in every school in Phoenix, grades 3-12,” Frye reveals. “Our goal is to reduce risk factors like obesity [and] poor nutrition that all affect self-esteem in young people.”
The CFrye Bull Dogs, a collection of youth basketball teams, is a place where Frye and his foundation attempt to “teach young men about responsibility and leadership,” Frye says.
The Bull Dogs, who practice in Downtown Phoenix, are focused on parent involvement.
“We’re currently looking for volunteers to help with our youth, and what better place to start than in the heart of Phoenix?” Frye says.
While the Bull Dogs’ mission is to instill responsibility in the kids who participate, Danielle’s Corner is attempting to alleviate some responsibility. The group, which has teamed up with the National MS Society, is quickly becoming a safe haven where children of parents with MS come to escape the very grown-up realities of their demanding childhood.
“In November, we hosted 50 kids and family members from Danielle’s Corner to a Suns game,” Frye says. “To see their faces makes you understand what giving back really means.”
An NBA career is one without guarantees, and knowing that is simply a part of the game. Frye, who declined the player option on his Suns contract for the 2010-11 season, hopes to resign with the team this summer. Regardless, he is committed to keeping the roots of the CFrye Foundation here in Phoenix.
For the immediate future, Frye continues to be an essential part of the Suns’ winning season. His passion for his foundation and his hometown are evident in his committed involvement in the community. An avid blogger, Frye is constantly updating his fans about his favorite restaurants and hot spots in Phoenix.
“It’s where I grew up, it’s my hometown,” Frye says.