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January 30, 2013

OU's Fraschilla, ESPN's Nowkhah connected through loss

Untitled Document


He was a young rising star in the internet age of sports media.

Just two years removed from earning a broadcast journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma, he won a regional award voted on by his peers for sports reporting. He won that award as the sports director at a tiny TV station in Kalispell, Mont.

His name is Dari.

A year later, he moved to Lincoln, Neb., to anchor for KLKN-TV. He did well in Lincoln. He covered the Cornhuskers, built his brand, met the most important woman in his life.

He'd marry that woman, and she'd follow him wherever his job led. She's committed to him, committed to helping him raise a family he loves, that loves him.

SCOOPHD: BAYLOR PREVIEW AND THE STORY OF HAYDEN'S HOPE

He was a young rising star in the internet age of sports media.

Just two years removed from earning a broadcast journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma, he won a regional award voted on by his peers for sports reporting. He won that award as the sports director at a tiny TV station in Kalispell, Mont.

His name is Dari.

A year later, he moved to Lincoln, Neb., to anchor for KLKN-TB. He did well in Lincoln. He covered the Cornhuskers, built his brand, met the most important woman in his life.

He'd marry that woman, and she'd follow him wherever his job led. She's committed to him, committed to helping him raise a family he loves, that loves him.

He'd earn an opportunity to return home to, to Tulsa, Okla., to report and anchor for KOTV. His friends are there. His family is there. But he can't stay.

There are bigger things ahead for him, the biggest. ESPN television offered him a job just two years after he arrived back in Tulsa. Could he really say no?

Sure, there's a choice to be made. After all, Tulsa is home. Tulsa is where his heart is.

What did he know about Bristol, Conn.? Do he really want to uproot his family again? He turned to his wife, and she said he must go.

At 28, he became a member of the illustrious fraternity of Tulsa broadcasters to assume a national gig. He's proud to follow in the footsteps of Ron Franklin, John Anderson, Becky Dixon, Bob Carpenter and Steve Zabriskie.

He committed himself to making a go of it in Bristol, and, by God, did he ever make the folks back home proud. Slowly but surely, he rose through the ranks at ESPN.

By August 2011, he'd become the lead anchor of ESPNU, a 24-hour college sports network in Charlotte, N.C.

The folks back home couldn't have been happier for him, a native son making it to the big time. He'd never felt better about life. Just weeks after receiving his promotion, he introduced his third child, and the fifth member of his family to the world.

His name was Hayden.

Hayden was healthful, strong. Hayden was cleared to go home to begin his new life with Dari and the rest of the family, just three days after his birth. For the first five days of Hayden's life, everything appeared normal.

Life was beautiful.

But things changed for Hayden on his sixth day, he became hot. His 102-degree fever necessitated a return to the hospital.

It was virus causing Hayden's fever. Then a doctor delivered terrible news: The virus attacked Hayden's heart, and he would need a heart transplant to survive.

So, he held out hope.

Hayden's name was marked near the top of the transplant list. If there were hearts available, he should have been one of the first to receive one.

He waited days for a heart for Hayden. Then a few more. But he couldn't take watching his baby boy suffer.

Dari Nowkhah and his wife, Jenn, lost their third child in 2011 after just 39 days. His name is Hayden.

Later that year, a Sooner basketball player, James Fraschilla, concocted the idea he could make circus shots on all kinds of surfaces over all kinds of obstacles. All he needed to make it work was a basketball and basketball goal.

Fraschilla, a walk-on freshman then, doesn't have high hopes of playing in the NBA or even becoming a Division I basketball coach like his father and ESPN analyst, Fran Fraschilla. He studies broadcast and electronic media at Oklahoma, like Nowkhah did.

He's practiced his love of video production since high school and saw an opportunity to put his two great loves -- basketball and video editing -- to great use in the winter of 2011. He put the videos together during off days and after practices.

James' teammates have respected him since the day he stepped on campus because his work ethic is second to none, and his want to make his teammates better at each practice is contagious.

"He brings it every time," Oklahoma point guard Sam Grooms said. "When he says stuff to us on the court, we respect him because of the work ethic that he does have."

James put his disciplined mind to work, studying basketball trick shot artists like Kyle Singler. He came up with an assortment of his own shots, taped himself and set the video to music and uploaded it YouTube. He repeated the process in December 2012.

At each video's end, he asks for a donation to the foundation the Nowkhahs have created to raise awareness for children's organ transplants. The foundation is called Hayden's Hope.

"I had a few people email me and tell me that they made contributions, and that made it all worth it," James said.

James doesn't have any immediate plans to make another trick shot video, but he's thinking about what he could do next to help the Nowkhah's cause.

"The issue of pediatric organs transplants is something that not a lot of people know about, so I just wanted to kind of give that some plug."

JAMES FRASCHILLA TRICK SHOT VIDEOS ON YOUTUBE
James FraschillaYouTube Trick Shot video No. 1
James Fraschilla YouTube Trick Shot video No. 2

To date, James' videos have accumulated over 70,000 views in just over a year's time. Nowkhah didn't know Fraschilla was going to make the first video to help raise awareness for Hayden's Hope until he received an email from Fraschilla asking what he thought of the video's production.

"What a kid," Nowkhah said. "My first reaction was like 'Wow'. To spend that kind of time and effort, this is hours in the making. He spent a ton of time doing this."

But more than the technical aspects of the making the videos, Nowkhah was amazed by James' perspective. That's what he asks others to remember whenever he's asked to speak in front of people who want know his story.

Remember the important parts of life. That's why Nowkhah believes James produced these videos.

"Have perspective of what's important," Nowkhah said. "I know that Hayden has given all that to James. I know James appreciates life and wants to help us."

Hayden's Hope has a goal of reaching $75,000 in donations toward raising awareness for child organ transplants. To date, Hayden's Hope has raised just over $62,000. You can make a donation to Hayden's Hope here.

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