Event host. Influencer. Model. Actor. Radio personality. Esports announcer. Brand ambassador. Professor. Reality TV star. Nonprofit founder. Ms. Basketball. Christina Granville ’13 boasts all of those titles on her résumé and more. The Saint Leo alumna is a multi-hyphenate who does it all. “I’m all things good energy,” Granville said with a laugh.
One of 10 children, Granville grew up in Clewiston, FL. As the “caboose” of her family, she found role models in her parents — dad Theodore is 94 and a pastor, and mom Catherine is 78 and a retired teacher.
Her love of basketball came from watching her big brother play. “I wanted to be just like him,” Granville said. “It was church every night, and then watching my brother play. I was 9 or 10, and I never looked back. There was an article written about me when I was young, and I said I wanted to be the first female in the NBA! Of course, I was going to be in the WNBA; I was going to be the next Lisa Leslie.”
Granville was recruited to play basketball and attend college at Independence Community College in Kansas. “My thought was that I wanted to get away [from Florida],” Granville said. She had a few scholarship offers, but a guidance counselor steered her to Independence.
After making a 24-hour trip in her purple 1994 Honda Civic to Kansas, “the coach tells me I’m not good enough and red-shirted me,” she said, dashing her hopes of playing that year.
Granville was devastated at the prospect of not playing college basketball and pursuing a career in the WNBA. “I thought if I couldn’t play basketball, then I don’t want to go to college,” she said.
She moved to Orlando and left the community college. There, Granville began brand ambassador work. “I got my first job for 7-Eleven, going to various college campuses handing out 7-Eleven coupons for $25 an hour. But I was missing basketball.”
So she played pick-up games and in summer leagues around the city. With her glamorous looks — makeup on and nails done — and her loudness on the court, she gained the attention of an agent at the age of 24. She told him she had given up her dream of playing for the WNBA or professionally overseas.
The agent told Granville if she was serious about playing basketball, she needed to go to college, and he secured tryouts for several teams, including Jefferson College in Missouri. “It had to be God as I had the best tryout of my life,” she said.
Soon, Granville was on the court again. During her two years at Jefferson, she hit the “reset button,” serving as captain of the women’s basketball team and breaking a school record with 22 rebounds in one game.
Her coach told her she should look at Saint Leo University, a “really good, private school” where she could get a full scholarship to play in Division II, while earning her degree closer to home.
Granville fell in love with Saint Leo on her first visit to campus. “I really got a chance to be myself at Saint Leo,” she said. “I was 26 or 27, older than all of my teammates. I wasn’t the stereotypical basketball player. But I felt at home. I still have friends from Saint Leo.”
At first, Granville thought she would major in marketing, since she already was selling and marketing products as a brand ambassador. Her academic advisor gave her a “road map” for her future, helping her take courses she needed to graduate on time.
She realized that a bachelor’s degree in management suited her, and she found her professors to be positive and encouraging.
Granville choked up as she recalled her time at the university. “The opportunity to be at Saint Leo and play the game I love meant so much to me,” she said. “It was not only my teammates, but the support of the community and fans coming out.”
Saint Leo provided her with a foundation to help build her career. “I learned it’s OK to go back and start over. You’re never too old to live out your dreams,” Granville said.
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Granville began entertaining in elementary school. “I have a big personality,” she said, which many would say is an understatement. As a brand ambassador, Granville picked up the microphone to start driving sales.
She recorded herself, creating hosting reels in order to obtain work hosting events and shows. “I started getting more and more gigs, and I documented it on social media, gaining followers,” she said.
Moving to Atlanta in 2013, Granville’s career took off. She appeared in Ride Along 2, Tyler Perry’s: The Have’s & Have Nots, and Dating In Atlanta: The Movie; graced more than 50 fashion show runways; hosted major events at the Essence Festival, NCAA Final Four, NCAA Football Championship, Black Enterprise Entrepreneurship Summit, and the 2023 Super Bowl; and became an Atlanta radio show host.
Now, she hosts the esports NBA 2K League and added “professor” to her resume, teaching esports team management at Morris Brown College. In addition to teaching and hosting events, Granville also is a guest correspondent for WAGA-TV, Fox 5, Atlanta.
Hosting the NBA esports program is exciting for Granville. “When I came into the NBA 2K League community there was only one African American woman in broadcast. I want to encourage people who look like me to get into this space and take full advantage of all of these opportunities. There is room for you!”
Granville has not forgotten her first love: basketball. On her website, Ms. Basketball — her MySpace handle from back in the day — her mission statement is to encourage others “to keep hooping no matter your size, race, or age.”
She started the I Hoop Too Foundation, which focuses on personal development, education, and health and wellness programs for girls and the community. Her foundation provides summer camps, mentoring programs, coat and food drives, breast cancer awareness events, and scholarships so others can pursue higher education, following in her path.
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“I literally have been blessed at every level,” she said. “It keeps getting better and better. I want my life to be motivation to others to not give up on their dreams.”