Inspiration burns bright for Firefly.
ARTAVIUS 'Firefly' Fisher is not your normal basketball player.
Nor does he play for a normal basketball team. He plays for biggest and best team in the world. The Harlem Globetrotters.
There is nothing normal about being a Globetrotter.
Few other teams in any sport can describe themselves as 'the best team in the world'. Particularly if they're not strictly 'competitive' or don't feature in any professional sporting league in the world. But for Harlem's and basketball's finest, this is merely a slogan. The glitz, glamour, acrobatics, theatrics, energy and passion has long since made the Harlem Globetrotters renowned around the globe.
It is tough to argue with around 450 shows in 120 countries each year.
Firefly, from Kingston in New York, has tasted the stardom for more than a decade now.
"The thing about the Harlem Globetrotters is that you're getting a group of kids and adults that love basketball and another group that just want to see entertainment," said the No.3, who plays guard for the Globetrotters.
"When you add those two together you've got to be the best team in the world. And I consider us the best team in the world. We can make anybody happy on every given night.
"If you love it and have the passion for it then you can really be great. I consider myself great. Any time you're with the Harlem Globetrotters you have to have a type of greatness to who you are.
"I'm just happy to be among so many players on this team that we can all be great to change the world."
Firefly is not afraid at selling his team as the leading sporting entertainers on the planet - few sports team can boast as many sell-out tours worldwide and honorary members like Nelson Mandela, Pope Francis, Usain Bolt and Lionel Messi.
But underneath the self-assured exterior there is a deeper passion that keeps the 33-year-old's fire burning - to inspire.
Not just to inspire basketball fans, but inspire any generation that crosses his path. From New York to London and anywhere else.
He added: "I am living the dream. I grew up in difficult times when things aren't always given to you. Everybody on our team has a story that really brings light to what we do.
"I'm definitely living the dream of what I consider my best life. To other people it might be different but this is definitely my calling and I'm happy to be doing this for 10 years.
"We're worldwide. Some people only make a difference in the community, which is great and something I do.
"But I make a difference around the world, so it definitely changes the perspective of life.
"I probably spend most of my time on the road. So I don't get to be at home that much, but I embrace it when I am home. I try to not sit down, I try to be involved in my community, help kids and take care of people."
There is something else that sets Firefly apart from even his superstar team-mates.
At 5ft 9ins he is extremely small for a basketball star. He still has half-a-foot on the Globetrotter legend Too Tall Hall (5ft 2ins) and NBA superstar Earl Boykins (5ft 5ins) - but he is still in a demographic of his own in the industry.
This, naturally, is one of his callcards and selling points, while not detracting from his stunning dribbling ability and deadly four-point accuracy, where he can sink shot after shot after shot.
"One thing you can't teach is height!" Firefly quipped.
"Absolutely I had to go the extra mile. Anything that you want to do can be done. It's all about loving what you do.
"You've just got to go out there and work hard.
"There are some people out there short that wish they were tall and tall people that wish they were short.
"It still doesn't determine the time of hard work you have to put out in order to do something good."
Firefly was a big basketball fan growing up on the east coast. He also loved wrestling and competing on the track.
He took his passion for the court further and says competing at high school, college and scholarship standard are some of his best memories. There is obviously ability behind the trick shots.
The Globetrotters, quite literally, trot the globe. They travel the world and have recently finished their latest European tour - including a UK stint which brought them to Birmingham - where thousands upon thousands of fans from all backgrounds were wowed by their ability and showmanship.
Established in 1920s, they rose to prominence 50 years later and were the first basketball team to tour Europe.
There was an era where their stars were household names. Still now they sell out arenas with the unique mixture of skills, fan interaction and comedy. "One of the best parts is being able to travel the world, meet new people, new cultures and new environments," added Firefly, whose partner is expecting their first child.
"We bring a little bit of our American style to everyone in Europe and we love doing it.
"It always changes. We always have to bring something new to the show every year and give something for people to be excited about.
"This year's tour the fans saw new things, new players, one of our female players, a little bit of everything. It's all about them leaving saying it was the best time ever.
"If we do that then we've done our job. We've done good."
While the travelling keeps him away from home, the suburbs of NYC, for months upon months, there are some pros to spending time of the road.
Firefly grew up in a tough area that could be subjected to gang violence and other distractions.
He often feels more settled on the road in cities that remind him of home.
He added: "I've been to England plenty of times. I've come myself to go on the London Eye and visit Big Ben. I did that all on my own and it's great being able to do it again with the Globetrotters.
"I love the culture. I love that everybody speaks English - it's always a benefit and definitely helps! It's one of my favourite places to go.
"It kind of reminds me of being home at times as well, depending on where you are. It can be a big city with a lot of tourists, just like being in New York City.
"It can make me feel like I'm at home and I love to be everywhere that makes me feel at home, especially as I'm on the road all the time."
What's next? Firefly doesn't wish to look too far into the future. But if he can continue travelling and inspiring young people, then he is happy.
"I still want to continue travelling the world," he added. "It's something I want to continue. I've learned and embraced so much. I still want to be able to make a difference with kids in their lives. I'm still considered a Harlem Globetrotter at the moment, and it's always great to have that title."
Showman: Firefly in action on court
Artavius Fisher - or Firefly to those who follow the Harlem Globetrotters - is aware he has been given a platform to help and inspire young people
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|Publication:||Shropshire Star (Shropshire, England)|
|Date:||Jun 29, 2019|
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