Don Franco is, in many ways, an American success story. The product of a broken family, he was raised in the type of impoverishment that hinders and destroys the promise of so many potentially productive African-American youth. Yet instead of becoming another casualty of the inner city, Don overcame to become a college graduate, a successful businessman and a happily married man for 32 years.
Don was raised in Linden, NJ. His parents separated when he was one, leaving his mother to raise him and his older sister in a one-bedroom apartment. Though his mom did an admirable job of providing Don with a strong sense of values, Don could not escape the emotional pain of growing up fatherless and poor. Like many youngsters stuck in a complex situation, Don many times felt inadequate.
Nonetheless, his mother’s emphasis on education paid off, and Don became an honor society student. He also was a star basketball player, earning a scholarship to Oak Hill Academy in Virginia and later finishing his high school career at Linden High School as New Jersey’s “Player of the Year.” Don attended Virginia Commonwealth University, the recipient of a four-year basketball scholarship.