COLUMBIA — James Franklin’s bling is made of plastic.
Instead of gold, Franklin is partial to shoestrings. Diamonds? No, Franklin prefers duct tape and plastic beads — yes, the same kind of beads you probably strung together in kindergarten art class.
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Franklin has been wearing his necklace, which is a string of alternating black and white beads with a black and white Superman charm hanging prominently from the bottom, since his senior year in high school. Although the necklace may look like something a teenager threw together in just minutes, without thought, it is anything but.
“My dad’s black and my mom’s white,” Franklin said. “I call myself ‘blite.’ That’s b-l-i-t-e, because I’m half black and half white.”
The massive charm that hangs from the necklace has a deeper significance as well, one that is related to football and Franklin’s powerful arm. According to Franklin, black is the more dominant color in his appearance, and his right hand is his dominant hand. Therefore, the right side of the charm is black, linking the dominant color to the dominant hand.
Franklin’s necklace has gone through a long evolution since he first put it on in the fall of 2009. One of his friends gave him the charm after he was on the cover of a newspaper. The article about Franklin was aptly titled “Superman.”
“Someone kind of got it for me as a joke,” Franklin said.
At first, the charm was suspended from Franklin’s neck with only a silver shoestring — a far cry from the thick, beaded adornment that it’s now anchored on. The silver color of the shoestring also has significance for the young quarterback.
“Silver is my favorite color,” Franklin said. “And, when you mix black and white together you get gray, and silver is like gray with a little pizzazz.”
The shoestring was quickly upgraded with a few accents made of duct tape. Franklin wrapped both black and white tape in segments around the string, and he was satisfied with this change. But not for long.
“I kind of keep upgrading it,” Franklin said.
Soon, Franklin had peeled the duct tape off and added the beads that are there today. At this stage in its evolution, the necklace has become a part of Franklin’s daily appearance. He wears it every day, except when he is suited up for games and when he goes to church on Sunday. Other than that, though, it’s unlikely you’ll see Franklin without his favorite accessory.
The necklace has one further layer of meaning, however, that Franklin refuses to reveal. Although the charm appears to be the Superman logo, he has come up with a different meaning for it over time, a meaning he refuses to comment on.
“It has a more significant meaning now,” Franklin said. “It doesn’t mean superman, but I can only tell my future wife.”
Ladies, if you really want to know the full meaning of the necklace, your work is cut out for you. Until then, Franklin is holding his secret closely around his neck.