Sometimes those wonderful inspiration stories are slightly hidden, but if one listens closely, all it takes is to have heard one line and then that next fascinating piece can be produced. I have taken a lot of pleasure of listening to the No Plan B Podcast created by the comical but Knowledgeable ex professional player Joe Asberry. Asberry is a guy that has seen everything on and off the court and brings that special basketball street edge. His Podcast focuses on the journies of professional players that have come to Germany seeking their dream, but haven’t always had an easy ladder to climb. One of those players that was featured was Matt Reid who had carved out a respectable 11 year career and now has made the next step in business with company professional Sports Recovery. In the Podcast, he talked about his rookie season in Schwelm and mentioned his rookie teammate Keith Harris (196-G/F-85, college: Oklah.Christian) who he had to teach to drive the stick shift. He then mentioned one line which immediately raised my eye brows. ‘He played one year in Germany and then became a Hollywood actor’. Ok so there have been guys from the NBA that have become actors like the eccentric Dennis Rodman who shared the screen with Jean Claude Van Damme, or the lovable Shaq who wooed everyone in Kazaam or my favorite Kareem Abdul Jabbar who got rather annoyed as Co Pilot Roger Murdock in Airplane as a kid reminded him he didn’t play defense for the Lakers or who could forget his run as a teacher on Different Strokes with Gary Coleman. But these guys were all great NBA players who had an easy route into Hollywood, but for a guy like Keith Harris coming from a German Regionalliga team Schwelm, Hollywood wasn’t handed to him on a platter, but rather his path hasn’t been an easy one, but one that he has enjoyed taking and has become a steady working actor through hard work. Even if he isn’t a professional basketball player anymore, he tries to take concepts from basketball for acting. He also has kept that same kind of mind step in acting that a lot of the guys that have guested on the No Plan B Podcast in that they always have a chip on their shoulder and have to continue to keep grinding to keep moving up the basketball ladder. It isn’t any different with Keith Harris and the Hollywood ladder. ‘Well, I still don’t feel as though I’ve fully gotten into Hollywood yet lol. Definitely tougher than basketball to make a name for yourself. It’s a lot of luck but a lot of hard work as well. It’s also about who you know. Up until about 3 years ago I was doing a lot of auditioning and small projects. I feel like I have such a long way to go but excited for the journey. I often use principles I learned in basketball and apply it to my acting career. It’s very different. I feel like in acting I have no control but in basketball you get what you put into it. If you work really hard you improve. In acting, I can be the very best but may not fit the role. Sometimes, I wish it was more like basketball. If you work harder you get the job. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. I am currently making more contacts with each project. I am also working on my own stage plays and film projects. If anyone wants to invest in my script that I wrote regarding my father (it’s a great story) let me know ‘, stressed Keith Harris. Harris didn’t have the easy Hollywood route the way guys like Kareem, Shaq and Rodman had, but rather went more of a out of the ordinary route going from Schwelm, Germany to Hollywood.
Harris was born on July 11, 1985 in Houston, Texas. It is funny but basketball and acting were two things that he enjoyed as a kid, but things he didn’t envision at that time that would help him pay the bills and put food on the table. ‘Well basketball has always been an outlet for me to just escape. When I played basketball nothing else mattered and the things that I felt and were going through they were not thought of while on the court. I played basketball in Texas up until University. I went to Oklahoma Christian University and played there four years. Basketball was something that I was a late bloomer in. It was always ‘I’m going to prove that I can do this.’ I think I have always felt like the underdog and that I always had to work a little bit harder for everything. I get this from my mother and grandmother. Two women who had to work so very hard for what they have and what they accomplished. So, when I received a scholarship for college it was a moment that meant the world and I intended be the best I could in those four years. I actually never thought about playing professional basketball. It was a door that God opened up for me and with my hard work, the two met and there was an opportunity to play in Schwelm’, remembered Keith Harris. He wasn’t only able to show how creative he could be with the ball on the floor, but also showed talent as a kid with the arts. He enjoyed doing small talent shows and making weird videos. He had always been great with words and one could say that writing was like a first love for him. Even if he hated English class growing up, he really did enjoy styling his writing to how people spoke. ‘In college I met this girl (it always starts with a girl lol) and we wrote this musical together. I was just doing it because I liked her but then it turned into a passion. In Schwelm we had so much down time because it’s just games and practice I was able to watch a ton of DVD’s. I just remember being so moved by all of these different performances and was so intrigued at how someone can make me feel a certain way by what they wrote or said’, said Keith Harris. He played college ball at Oklahoma Christian University (NAIA) putting up good stats in his last two seasons averaging 15.5 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 2 apg, 1.5 spg and 17.3 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 2.4 apg, 1.1 spg. He even had a brush with the NCAA and NBA, but overall playing in the NAIA was a great experience and he noticed that the league is a lot better than what it is given credit for. ‘Oklahoma Christian was a blessing for me. I actually had a division 1 offer from Texas State University. However, a coach I had at the time was hiding college letters from me from other division 1 schools and because of that Texas State no longer became an option. I remember being quite stressed about where I would go to school, even breaking out into hives. I was playing in an all-star game in Texas for seniors and my college coaches Dan Hays (the winningest coach in Oklahoma history) and Curtis Janz, a mentor and a man I look up to, drove to Texas to see me play. I had never spoken to them but after their visit they flew me in to Oklahoma Christian and after my visit I made it my home. It was a life changer in more ways than basketball. But the NAIA was competitive and we even played against a few D-1 schools. My experience there was my first time away from home and it really helped me grow into the man I am today. As a senior in college I did receive contact with a few pro scouts. My claim to NBA fame was when a scout for the Toronto Raptors spoke to me after a game in Texas. They were there to watch our power forward who spent some time playing professionally but it was really a moment where I thought ‘Maybe I can play at the next level.’ I think Oklahoma Christian University as a whole was an experience. It was a school that really forced me outside of my comfort zone. It challenged me in so many different ways especially my faith. I didn’t grow up with my father in my life and the men that I met there at Oklahoma Christian gave me a lot of foundation’, stressed Keith Harris. He didn’t leave Oklahoma Christian University empty handed, but also scooped up some awards with NAIA D1 All-America Honorable Mention -06, All-Sooner Athletic Conf. 3rd Team -07, and All-Sooner Athletic Conf. Sportsmanship Award -07.
After school, the American decided to attempt a professional basketball career. Not all players coming from lower divisions have the luxury of having an agent, but he had one which made the whole 2007 summer transfer period a little bit easier to handle. Even if the NAIA is only the fourth school division in the states, it is a lot more competitive than what it is given credit for. The NAIA is considered the division one for private schools. What really gives the NAIA an unjustified bad rap is that it is considered small college basketball. He and his agent then put together a highlight reel and Schwelm liked the result and the rest is history. He signed with Schwelm, a team that played then in the third division for the 2007-2008 season and moved to Germany. Rafi Wilder would become his first and only head coach as a professional. When I mention his time in Schwelm, the eyes of Keith Harris light up the way kids do on Christmas morning when they can open their presents. Often you will have those guys that will fall in love with a place and play many years there like Rickey Paulding in Oldenburg and Quantez Robertson who have exceeded 10 plus years, but seldom do you find a guy like Harris who was so in love with a place having been only one season there. It was one of those places where absolutely everything clicked for him on and off the court. The season was a huge success. The club only lost one game. The club had a great foundation of German players, two Americans and one Canadian and a team chemistry that grew from day one until the end. Plus the club had a lot of selfless players and a coaching staff that was able to help develop the players further. There were some special moments that he will never forget from that season were hearing those classic banging drums from the support of the fans, learning to drive stick shift from Matt Reid, winning an in season tournament, coaching the U-13 team and the last party after the final game. In the NBA, everything is taken care of for the Lebron’s, Harden’s and Westbrooks and if they don’t ever want to see a fan then that wish will be granted, but in Europe it is a lot different. The lower you go in levels, it seems like that bond gets so much more intense with the fans. He could probably write a book about his amazing journey from basketball to acting and there would surely be one chapter dedicated to the Schwelm fans. ‘Now what really mattered was the fans! I remember getting off that plane and into this red car with Nico one of the team assistants. I remember eating at Haenchen Schmitz almost every day and mostly eating spaghetti Bolognese. Spending time with Marvin Eberle and playing video games at his flat and him looking out for us. Having to wait so long for internet connection lol, going to a call shop to call America, and just walking around Schwelm and feeling appreciated and loved. To go even deeper, the family that I still keep in contact with today. The Falkenraths and Wiethoffs. My German mom and dad Ralf and Judith Falkenrath are just amazing individuals and when I was in Germany, they treated me like their son. They still do and I talk to them often. My brothers David and Lucas Falkenrath have come to America twice to visit. Justus, Juliana, and Johana, Sabine and Marcus Wiethoff for being a family that was there for me and made my time in Germany extra special. There are so many others that I can thank but I just want to say this to say that the people there is what I appreciated the most. My departure from Schwelm was a decision that I felt that I needed to make but the people there should know that they were an amazing part in my life and my German experience. I do want to say, that I have waited for an opportunity to just apologize if I hurt people from Schwelm when I decided to leave. I’m sure that many probably don’t remember but It’s something that I have held on to for a while. Thank you Miles for this chance. There were hard feelings when I decided to leave but that will never change how I feel about Schwelm. I always hope to be a Schwelmer basket forever’, warned Keith Harris.
He had many unforgettable moments off the court and ones he will cherish forever, but he also had fond memories from on the court when he showed Germany that he was a very good Regionalliga player. He will never forget his 40 point explosion. ‘That was as a feeling I had never felt before. Felt like I could throw up a shot with my eyes closed and it would go in. Or when Matthew would throw a nice assist to me or another player. loved seeing him succeed, it’s like he’s the other American, I want him to do well too. So I enjoyed when we did well together’, stressed Keith Harris. Not only were the fans a very important aspect to him being able to adjust in a new culture and have success on the court, but teammate Matt Reid was a massive reason why his only professional season could be so successful and so pleasurable. Like Harris, Reid has shined off the court as he has become very successful in the business world. ‘I expected all of this to happen for Matthew. His success is no accident. To be honest if it wasn’t for Matthew being there with me in Germany my experience would have been totally different. First off, he is hilarious and basically had his own place in Germany. Now how in the world does he talk them into giving him his own place? That’s when I knew he would be a great business man. He was also a great teacher on and off the court. It comes with the territory, being a point guard. But think about this, Matthew could have been the type of teammate that looked at the situation like a competition between he and I. However, it was always about us and improving together. Loved that about him. And who takes the time to teach a grown man how to drive a stick? I still laugh at some of his antics there in Germany, but if I have to go back and do it again, I wouldn’t do it without him. I’m so proud of him and followed his career as he played, on social media and you tube. He worked hard, he succeeded, and I don’t doubt he will explode in his business. We will be forever teammates’, stressed Keith Harris. For Matt Reid the feeling is mutual about his teammate. They had a special bond from the first day they met in Schwelm until today. ‘Keith was by far the greatest teammate I’ve ever played with. He could do it all on the court! He was able to play positions 1-4 and was a great shooter and crazy work ethic. My fondest memory off the court of him was his joy for life and always was in a good mood and great person to talk to about anything in life. I was one of the first persons Keith told when he decided to become an actor. We always talked about what we will do when basketball is over. and what I respected most about his dreams is that he was determined that the timing was perfect to start his acting career. He put the same work ethic he had from basketball and put it into his acting career and I’m proud of him and his success with acting. Also it’s a great connection for me to have for free movie premieres tickets for his future roles’, smiled Matt Reid. So after a very successful rookie season in Germany, he had to make a decision about basketball. It is no secret that it’s very difficult to make a living off a Regionalliga pay check. Some guys put up with it for a few more years, but many then who don’t move up the basketball ladder retire and return home. He had averaged 23,0ppg as a rookie and surely could of played at a higher level, but a basketball just wasn’t in his future plans. ‘I never thought about the money. It was always about doing what I love. That’s how I live my life. If I don’t absolutely love or have some passion for what I am doing, then it’s time for me to change. That’s what it was for me. I had never dreamed of playing professional basketball. I always thought after college that would be it and it would be time to move on. I just came to a point where I was burnt out and wanted to do something that I felt had longevity. You can only play basketball for a short time, and then what? So I decided to start my ‘and then what’ at age 23. No connection with my point average’, remembered Keith Harris.
So there he was in the summer of 2008 back at home in Texas and his brief professional basketball memories from Germany still dancing in his head. He knew that he wanted to do something that would just give him more security and that better sense of longevity and basketball just wasn’t that. Retiring from basketball was very difficult to do for the American. As difficult for many as who to pick as the greatest of all-time Michael Jordan or Lebron James. Ok for me it’s a no brainer with Bill Russell, but who’s asking me. ‘ It’s like a kid that had his favorite toy in one hand and his favorite snack in the other and you had to get rid of one. Which do you choose? I sought out many mentors and ultimately looked towards my faith for answers. I still love basketball and did at the time of my decision. Honestly if I had to make the decision again, I don’t know what I would do. The same head space that I found myself in that summer. Leaving anything that you love and that’s been a part of your life, is tough’, added Keith Harris. So he had made his decision to step away from basketball a game that he loved and now would attempt to begin a new adventure. You can ask hundreds of guys that have balled in Germany and are still chasing their ultimate basketball dream and they will tell you how difficult it is to secure a job, but what those starving actors. Getting into Hollywood wouldn’t be a cake walk for him, but he had to start somewhere. He was focused from the start and received his first role in 2010 called Frigid under a blazing sun. If you check IMDB, the bible for movie information has 32 official acting credits and like as a basketball player, the more versatile you are the easier it is getting jobs and it isn’t any different in showbiz. He also has 6 producer credits, 3 writing credits and 1 director credit. Being in showbiz and being a professional basketball player have one similarity and that you always have to trust the process. ‘You learn to appreciate the projects that you do get the opportunity to do. There are a lot of actors and not everyone gets the chance to audition or get roles in projects. So, you learn to live in the moment and not rush out of any project because the next can take a while to receive. I have also learned that my career is mine, and I can choose to do a project and I can also choose to not. I have turned down things that I felt were not consistent with my morals. I hope that pays off in the end. I also love that every role is different and even though it’s hard to get the role, once you get it, the fun begins. I love the process, working through nerves, trying to figure out your role, be present, and trust the work. I know basketball players can relate to that. I have experienced all of those feelings and emotions playing basketball. The process is what keeps me coming back and the HOPE that one day that big role can change everything is fun to chase. I am in another moment of ‘ I am going to prove that I can do this.’, warned Keith Harris. He has been involved with many special films, but one that is very close to his heart is Balboa Blvd, a flick that goes back to his roots. It is a story of a young man that has problems dealing with his past, but finds happiness playing basketball by himself. Then a homeless man enters his life showing a love for basketball and totally changes his summer. They form an unlikely duo and team up to play street games for money. Their friendship grows on and off the court and the young man finds answers to his past as suddenly basketball becomes more than just a game. ‘This was an easier role to play because of Kiley and Rody Claude, my friends and the creators of the film. They created the working environment and the trust in me to play the role. But acting is tough and with it being my first big film there was a lot of pressure that I mostly put on myself to do well. Acting takes work, studying, thinking everything through. To only NOT think when you are working. To hope that all the work you did before shows up as you try to stay in the moment. But definitely having that experience of basketball and playing in another country made it easier. It also helped with casting and just the believability of playing. Often times you watch basketball movies and the main characters really can’t play. Any real basketball player will notice’, stressed Keith Harris.
Another project that he is very proud of is Peace Officers. He not only stars in the movie with Jake Ebright and Aurelia Michael, but he wrote it and directed it. It is about police brutality and how two detectives try to bring about change. Being able to have so much responsibility was something that wasn’t simple for him, but a task that will continue to help him grow in so many different area’s of film. ‘Peace Officers was an impromptu film that I wanted to do during quarantine. I wanted to do a project from start to finish and learn from each part. I have so much respect for the different roles it takes to complete a film. I also got a chance to see what the casting directors sees when they see my pictures and videos. It helped me elevate my own game. I also learned that trying to act and direct in the same film is not easy to say the least. The next film I will direct only. Like I said before writing and telling my own stories is probably what I love the most. I currently have two full screenplays that I am shopping to get filmed. One is a horror story with a hidden positive message and the other is the story about my dad. The story about my dad has some basketball in it. I will never escape basketball’, warned Keith Harris. His next film project will be filmed in 2021 called the Legend of Johnny Jones. The flick is set in the housing projects of New Jersey. A young man who has been through abuse and poverty his whole life, undergoes a severe mental break down and starts a massive killing spree that has never been seen before. That is then how the legend of Johnny Jones is born. This movie features the first African American killer brought into a new light similar to guys like Jason Voorhees and Freddy Krueger. It will have a big name Hollywood name with Steven Seagal who came on the scene in the early 90’s with movies like Hard To Kill and Under Siege. But for Harris having scenes with the Martial Arts actor and seeing him on a daily basis won’t have him in awe. ‘It will probably be another movie for me. I mean, I love working with experienced actors especially those who I can learn from. With every movie I take a little bit from the professionals around me and always learn something new. I also am an observer. I watch everything that happens on set. So, I am looking forward to whatever lesson is next. Now ask me that again when I am working alongside Denzel Washington, Viola Davis or Tom Hanks then yeah it will definitely be an AWE moment’, said Keith Harris. If he had continued to be a professional basketball player he may still be playing at 35, but the chances are rather slim, but as an actor age 35 is like your playing your second or third professional season as a basketball player. He has been an actor 10 years now, but his career can still go many many more years. He knows that making movies is hard work, but at the end of the day he just wants to make a difference for the spectators. He still has some goals that he wants to achieve before it’s all over. ‘I want acting to do for my life what basketball did. Showed me the world, introduced me to so many great people and made me a better person. I want to play (act) at the highest level but more importantly I want to continue to tell stories and help move people and touch hearts just as those DVD’s did in Germany. That’s what it’s all about at the end of the day. Changing lives, altering lives positively through my art. Wow, so many actors and actresses that I would love to work with. The list is too long. But I think if I ever work with Denzel Washington, Idris Alba, Tom Hanks, or Viola Davis then that will be a moment where I feel I have really done well for myself.’, warned Keith Harris.
Now let’s fast forward to 2021 as COVID-19 is still affecting the world like crazy. The last film that he watched was Tenet and he surely could write a very entertaining book about his life, but considering everything he experienced in 2020 with COVID-19 and his acting work, he easily could of written just a book for 2020. It is a year that he will never forget nor will the rest of the world. ‘California has been hit hard with the pandemic. I have experienced two mandated shut downs and have basically been stuck in my apartment. Thankfully, I work with students and have been busy with creating lessons to help them through this as well. I have also been auditioning a lot during quarantine. All of which are through zoom or taping myself and sending it in. One thing I miss though is being able to work out consistently and play basketball. I used to play in a lot of recreation leagues and all of that came to a stop in March. 2020 also brought some tragic things in my life as I know it has done to a lot to people. In June my cousin passed away and then I lost my grandmother in November. So, I have flown home several times to be with family. This year has been interesting with acting. At the start of the year there were a lot of things that looked promising. I was on schedule to shoot a film here in LA and was supposed to shoot a few smaller parts in some shows. A few of them were pushed back to later in the year but the movie was pushed to 2021. Covid definitely brought a lot to a standing halt. I even flew out for jobs and had to fly back because someone on set tested positive. I have taken about 8 Covid test so far and have experienced up the nostril test, down the throat and my personal favorite the self-test (easiest). The nose is just awful and the throat is even worse lol. But I am thankful that I have been awarded the opportunities to continue to work even if it’s under extreme protocols’, stressed Keith Harris in December 2020. Seeing two loved ones lose their lives in 2020 as well as witnessing how many people have died world wide has definitely made him put life into a whole different perspective something that surely wouldn’t have happened had COVID-19 not entered everyone’s lives. ‘I don’t know if it’s Covid or just the other things that have happened this year but I am certainly in this mindset that life is so precious. It can be taken away from you in an instant!! So, while you are here, alive, LIVE!!! Do everything that you want, and really keep the people that you love close. Also, don’t take for granted the little things that we so often do. Being able to see people, talk to people, eat out. All these things were paused and I think we all felt the absence of it’, warned Keith Harris in December 2020
He lists his personal NBA Mount Rushmore with legends Jordan, Magic, Lebron, Kobe, Steph, and Bird – Honorable Mention Wilt and Kareem and may have last played a professional game more than 12 years ago, but even if basketball is still very close in his heart, he is more than 100% sure that leaving the game for acting was the right step. ‘I have had no regrets, but definitely thought where it could have gone. Maybe I would have reached the NBA and played with LEBRON and KOBE!! But no regrets. I reached a dream that I didn’t dream and for me that was enough’, expressed Keith Harris. Even though he is super busy as a film maker/actor, he still has connections to basketball. He doesn’t have contact to any of his former teammates except for one Matt Reid. There isn’t much surprise that that connection will forever be alive. ‘I keep up with Matthew but not any of the other teammates. That was a long time ago. I am a diehard NBA fan and look forward to basketball every year. I watch high school basketball in California and keep up with the newest talent. I also play NBA 2k lol, does that count? I love track now, and it’s because my little brother is a track star. So, I’ve been getting into that. I also coach basketball for 10-13-year-olds here in California. I have not stopped coaching. It’s great to give back to basketball what it gave to me. I’m also hoping that I can coach a future NBA player one day so I can get free tickets. It’s an investment’, laughed Keith Harris. He still has so many goals ahead of him in film and basketball, but one thing is for sure he will never forget his one professional basketball season in Schwelm that helped him grow as a man in many ways as well helping him choose acting for his next challenge which is something that has proved to have been the right decision.