KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Tennessee basketball great and two-time NBA All-Star Allan Houston’s message at Alcoa Middle School all started with the acronym on the back of his shirt: FISLL.
“It’s faith, integrity, sacrifice, leadership and legacy,” said Alcoa eighth grader Colette Brown. “I think that those are all very powerful words.”
The acronym came together through his life lessons.
“The short story of how I came up with FISLL is my father, which is how this all came about. My father and I were doing retreats for young men. Mentoring leadership development. I learned these principles from him as he taught me and coached me.”
For Houston, each word has a purpose, but one has a little more meaning.
“I think sacrifice probably means, at this moment, the most because when you have family, a big family, a lot of people who are counting on you to think about somebody else and to give something for somebody else is gain,” said Houston.
Each student was touched by a different part of the acronym.
“Faith is what you believe in, what you can tell yourself what you can do, what you can think,” said Alcoa middle schooler Jennaris Henry, “anything you can put your mind to, you can do.”
Houston said he does speaking engagements because of how important young children are to the future of society.
“They are the centerpiece of our civilization. I believe that,” said Houston. “everyone is trying to help them, get to them, glean from them, market to them. They are our leaders.”
Houston added that he loves these opportunities, especially at Alcoa, because he would often spend summers in the area when he was growing to visit family.
The Louisville, Kentucky native played at Tennessee from 1989 to 1993. He remains the all-time leading scorer in men’s basketball program history and second all-time in three-point field goals made. His No. 20 jersey was retired by the university in 2011.
He was selected 11th overall in the 1993 NBA Draft by the Detroit Pistons and joined the New York Knicks in 1996 as a free agent. He went on to earn two All-Star selections over nine seasons in New York. Houston was a member of the USA men’s national basketball team that won a gold medal at the 2000 Olympics in Australia.
Houston currently serves as a special assistant to the general manager of the Knicks and general manager of the Knicks’ G League team, the Westchester Knicks.