A former standout at Millersville -- and later, a third-round NBA draft pick who attended camp with the Chicago Bulls -- Fox arrived in Forli, a city in northeast Italy, as an outsider. None of his new teammates on the city's basketball team spoke English. The only person Fox could communicate with was Forli's general manager.
Fox had to immerse himself in a new culture, a new language, a new land.
Fortunately, the assimilation did not take long. A 6-foot-9 forward, Fox carved out an nine-year career playing overseas, eight of them in Italy. When he retired in 1998 -- eventually settling in York County and landing his current gig as an assistant coach with the Red Lion boys' basketball team -- the ties Fox established in Forli and elsewhere remained.
"It was a life-changing experience," he said.
Now, Fox is getting to share some of those same experiences with his son Michael, a rising junior forward at Red Lion.
Those two and another Lions player -- rising junior Jared Warner -- will spend next week at the WBSC Supercamp, an international basketball camp held in Italy. John Fox was invited to coach at the camp by its director, Stefano Colombo, a friend from Fox's time in Forli.
The three were scheduled to fly out of Philadelphia on Wednesday evening, and should arrive
"It opens your eyes up to so many different cultures, experiences, points of view," John Fox said of the camp. "That's the one thing I really look forward to exposing my son to."
For John Fox, this will be his fifth visit to the camp as a coach, and his first trip in three years. Michael has attended three previous camps as a player, and Warner has accompanied the Fox family to Italy once.
The camp they attend is one of the biggest of its kind, hosted by a massive multi-sports complex -- called "Sportilia" -- tucked among the mountains south of Bologna. The three-week event regularly attracts between 500 and 600 players from across Europe.
This year, nine different countries are represented among the camp's coaching staff.
"It's just fun to play against different kids from around the world and get that experience to know how different countries play the game," Warner, 16, said. "It's a whole lot different than how we play."
But while basketball might provide the main stimulus for the trip, it's not the only incentive. For Michael, who was 2 when John Fox retired and the family moved back to the U.S., it's a chance to sample the same cultural experiences his father once did. Fox's oldest son, Matthew, also attended the camp once.
Four years ago, the Fox family and Warner stayed an extra week after the camp and explored Rome. They saw the Colosseum and toured the Sistine Chapel.
"It's just so beautiful over there," Michael Fox, 16, said. "It's pretty cool to just see what he saw."
This year's schedule is a bit more crowded -- of the 10 days the three will spend in Italy, six will be spent at the camp. Still plenty of time to take in a few sights away from the basketball court.
"Basketball is basketball," John Fox said, "but it's the cultural experience of seeing how kids live in a different country, their viewpoint on things going on in the world. I think that's the aspect that's most appealing as a parent."