Being a Globetrotter is a platform for change, Ryan Dinsdale discovers.

Saul White Jr, a committed father and husband, leaves his family for six months each year.

He and his wife raise their four young children, Saul the Third, Amare, JC, and baby Aleena in Oklahoma, two states away from where Saul grew up in Illinois.

But that distance is nothing to Saul. As a Harlem Globetrotter, he goes much further

“It’s always tough to leave your family for the road,” he confessed, his deep voice rumbling with sincerity. “We leave on Christmas day, all the way to June.”

Each night, Saul puts on his flashy red and blue jersey, its gold accents matching his bleach-blond hair, as the Globetrotters perform their half basketball, half circus-act show in hundreds of cities worldwide.

Australia, Israel, and Italy are among his favourite countries to visit, but “just to see all the different cultures and all the different crowds is a blessing,” especially, Saul explained, when you consider where he came from.

Summit-Argo is a sleepy village in Cook County, Illinois. In 1927, Hemingway described it as a place no one’s heard of, a sentiment that still holds weight today. It is best known for high crime rates.

But there’s a reason it’s tattooed on Saul’s bicep. Summit-Argo raised him. Summit-Argo handed Saul his first basketball.

When Saul was born, his grandfather told his mom that he’d be special, and the same man took Saul to Harlem Globetrotter games in Chicago.

The White’s was a basketball household. Saul and his brother Whitney learned the game from their father, who played with NBA legends Isiah Thomas and Doc Rivers. “My family were born to be basketball players,” he laughed.

“My parents were big motivators, and my community always supported me as a kid. They pushed me to be a better person and a better athlete.”

The centre of that community is Argo High School, where Saul started studying in 2002. His basketball coach, Bill Toulios, vividly remembers the teen’s talent.

On a hot day in 2003, the team piled into a school bus and drove for an hour down to Kankakee Illinois. “We were playing in a summer league tournament,” said Bill.

“Saul made this one move that I am still so amazed at.” He cut past his guard, drove to the hoop, “and there was this big centre, about 6’7.”

Saul is 5’11, small for the basketball world, but he can jump. With childlike excitement, Bill continued: “When he took off I thought, ‘okay, he’s either gonna get fouled or he’s gonna lay it in.’

“But he did neither of those; he slammed the ball down on this guy. It was such a great move, and the place went crazy, and right there I knew he could be great.”

Saul knew it himself, so could always be found working. He’d either be in the gym or the classroom, “and always with a smile on his face,” said Bill.

“We’re very proud of him. Wherever he goes, whether its Shanghai or London, he always says he’s from Summit-Argo, and that’s a sense of pride that we always appreciate.”

Argo staff and students make sure to attend any Globetrotter games in Illinois, and Saul returns the favour.

“When he comes back to the building it’s a whole event,” said Bill. “He talks to his old teachers; he talks to the kids. He does a lot of summer camps with us here too.”

Having a platform to inspire children is one of Saul’s biggest motivations.

“My own drive comes from a lot of obstacles I’ve been through in my life,” he explained.

“A lot of kids don’t have it as easy as the next. Some have it hard, so they need that motivation, or they need that push to keep going.”

Saul is a role model, and that aspect of the job makes it all worth it.

He’s made hundreds of kids smile with his on-court antics, and he’s trained teenagers who became NBA players.

Being a Globetrotter has granted Saul that privilege.

“It’s given me a platform to reach millions and millions of people,” he explained, “and I’m just trying to be a positive impact.”

Social media is another influential platform, and Saul uploads speeches about valuing yourself, knowing your worth, and staying focused.

“Every day I’m working to improve myself by being a better basketball player, and a better father and husband, and just better in life,” he explained. He tries to instil that work ethic into his fans, “to give the kids something to hope for.”

He does so because he knows life isn’t easy; he also knows what’s possible.

Saul got his break when he uploaded highlight reel to YouTube in 2011. The Globetrotters saw it, liked it, and offered him a job. “It was a perfect fit,” he said, “and now I’m eight years strong.”

Did he ever expect this much success? “No,” he laughed. “That’s the easy answer.”

“Coming from a small town, every kid has that dream. You want to be that doctor, or that basketball player, or whatever you put your mind to. But you also don’t know if it will ever happen.”

“And then all of that hard work just turns around, and it does happen,” he said, still sounding surprised. “You’re like, ‘wow, my dream really came true.’”

Photo: Globetrotters

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