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Michael Franti was born in Oakland, California. His mother, Mary Lofy, had Irish, German, and Belgian ancestry, and his father, Thomas Hopkins, was of African-American and Native American descent.  However, his mother put him up for adoption because she was afraid that her racist family would not accept him. He was adopted by Carole Wisti and Charles Franti, a Finnish American couple in Oakland, who at the time had three biological children and one adopted African American son. Charles Franti was a professor in the department of epidemiology and preventive medicine of the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and died in 2003. Michael’s four adoptive siblings are named Rebecca, Sara, Dan, and Matthew. Michael spent his grade 9 school year at Highland Junior High School in Edmonton, Alberta. He then attended Davis Senior High School and University of San Francisco on a full basketball scholarship.