As a college basketball analyst for ESPN, Sean Farnham studies and memorizes plenty of statistics.
Those aren’t the numbers he cares about most these days.
Farnham’s success in the basketball world is leading the way to a much higher calling. In addition to his television work, the De La Salle High graduate has started a foundation, Hoops From Home. It is an organization that, on the surface, is designed to bring basketball camps to kids living on military bases.
However, there is far more to Hoops From Home than basketball.
“If you saw 75 percent of one group that qualifies for a reduced lunch or free lunch, would you say that’s a group of kids that desperately needs our help?” he asked.
Farnham can recite the statistics off the top of his head. He explains that children of armed services members are 2½ times more likely to suffer from social and behavioral issues. He can articulate why children of military families suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder simply because of their parents’ experiences.
He can speak to those issues because he has seen them in real life. The uncle of his wife, Sarah, is Michael Mullen, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. With that family tie, Farnham has attended numerous military events and seen the effect that being on a military base has on kids across the world.
“If you were 4 years old on Sept. 11, 2001, you are now 14 or 15 years old,” he said. “Your whole life,
all you’ve known is ‘Are the deployment papers coming today?’ That cloud has been over your family’s head for the last decade-plus.”
Now, he’s focused on doing something about it.
Hoops From Home will hold its first camp Aug. 11 at Camp Pendleton in Southern California. Where the foundation goes from there depends on what happens after the initial camp, because while Farnham has lofty intentions, he will not make promises that he cannot yet guarantee financially.
“That (first camp) in itself will be huge for the foundation,” said Dave Gorman, a Hoops From Home board member. “It will be one of those where we can step back and say, ‘We were able to do it’ and really start to get some of those corporate sponsors on board.”
As he develops his vision for the camps, Farnham also has begun to develop other basketball-related partnerships for Hoops From Home.
He has teamed with the Anaheim Classic, a Thanksgiving weekend college tournament that will feature both Cal and Saint Mary’s College, to provide a number of tickets for military families on bases in Southern California.
Before that happens, Farnham’s focus remains on his first camp. To ensure the long-term viability of Hoops From Home, he has called on people he knows well. His board of directors includes former UCLA teammate and NBA star Baron Davis.
‘A great leader’
It also includes Gorman, a senior vice president at Bank of America who graduated from De La Salle with Farnham in 1996, and current De La Salle High athletic director Leo Lopoz.
“Sean is full of energy and a great leader,” Lopoz said. “He has passion for all he does, and his commitment to Hoops From Home will fuel the success (of the program) and the many children who will benefit from who he is and what he does day in and day out.”
His board, along with his team of volunteers, knows about Farnham’s drive. Often working late at night from a hotel after broadcasting a game, Farnham has poured his high-energy style to get Hoops from Home off the ground.
When he graduated from De La Salle, Farnham did not have a scholarship to UCLA, Gorman said.
“He had to fight his tail off to get on the team, and he had to fight his tail off to stay on the team,” Gorman said. “He has demonstrated he has the work ethic and the drive; when he puts his mind to something, he’s going to accomplish it.”
The first camp will feature plenty of big-name NBA and college players. Farnham won’t give away the names, saying he wants it to be a surprise for the campers.
After that, Farnham will continue to work on fundraising, hoping to set up more camps across the country and, hopefully, the world.
“I’m very blessed and fortunate to have a great support staff that understands the vision, understands why we’re doing it, and understands that I won’t take a dime from this,” he said. “This isn’t me trying to make money in the offseason, this is me trying to help.”
Current residence: Danville
Position: Analyst (ESPN) and CEO (Hoops From Home)
Education: Bachelor’s degree from UCLA
Hoops From Home