The name Jabari Parker is well-known in the sports arena. The Chicago-born, 6’8”, 235 pound, all-star athlete will long be remembered for his basketball prowess at Chicago’s Simeon Career Academy. While attending Simeon, he quickly gained the favor of several recruiters, and in fact was a top recruit in the class of 2013, when he became the second player in the history of Illinois high school basketball to start on four state championship teams. After incisive deliberation, he made the decision to play for the Duke University Blue Devils. In an interview with DukeBluePlanet in July 2013, Parker was asked why he chose Duke University to which he responded,
I chose Duke because I thought it was the perfect fit for me. The student population is very tight. It’s a family-oriented community. It’s very nice and diverse and a community that will prepare me for the real-world someday.
The Key Players Who Have Influenced His Basketball Career
During the interview Parker was also asked who his greatest basketball influence is and said,
My greatest influence basketball-wise is probably my father because he played in the NBA and I’m trying to get to where he has been. He played in college at Texas A&M. Just seeing what he did in college, I think that he made a real big impact and I’m trying to live up to his expectations and what he did.
He also made several comments about his coach whom he deeply admires and respects:
Being around Coach K, I just want to pick his brain as much as possible. He has a lot of knowledge, a lot on his resume. I’m trying to get to where he has been and accomplish at least 25% of what he has done. His knowledge and love of the game at his age is real rare. Hopefully I can do half as much for him as he will do for me because that’s going to be a lot. He’s going to do more than I expect because, you know, he’s Coach K.
What impressed me most about Coach were his experiences and relationships with his players and how he wants them to be a part of the program forever. He wants them to come back. That’s real big on my end because it’s a family.
A Humble Giant among Men
Although Parker is a basketball phenom, he has not allowed the stardom and recognition to discredit his true character. To understand who the real Jabari Parker is, a person would need understand the things that matter the most to him, namely his family and his faith.
He is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and attests that it is his faith that has helped him to remain level headed and well grounded, thus keeping his head in the “real” game. Because of his strong faith and unfailing support from his family, he has been able to accept all of the recognition that he receives with great humility. In the May 21, 2012, issue of Sports Illustrated which had a feature article on Parker, he was quoted as saying, “Basketball is what I do, it’s not who I am.” During the interview with DukeBluePlanet he was asked to elaborate on his comment:
At the end of the day, being a good person is more important than basketball because you are only going to be remembered by what you do and how you carry yourself. You can be the most amazing athlete in the world, but if you’re not there for people and you’re not there for your community, your family, then what is your worth? That’s what separates the greatest from the average people. That little bit of selflessness, that character. I want to live my life not as Jabari Parker the basketball player, but as Jabari Parker the good guy, the helpful guy.
Staying True to the Home Team
Although Parker has achieved status as an outstanding basketball player and has been afforded many opportunities, he has not forgotten his real roots. He still considers Chicago to always be his home base, as it is there where it all began. He realizes, especially growing up on the South Side of Chicago, that the city is incessantly represented in the news media in a negative light. He has stated that he wants to be that person who helps to shed more light on the positive and help to eliminate the focus on the negativity.
Oh Chicago is the best. That’s the reason that I am the person that I am now. The hard-nosed style of basketball that we play around the city is from the community that I represent. Being from the South Side, I want to make a positive impact as much as possible. You see on CNN, they talk about the crime rate, there is a lot of negativity. I want to be as positive an influence as possible and be that guy who helps the city be looked at in the right way.
When he is off the court, Parker describes himself as a “relaxed cool guy.” He says that he enjoys being around different types of people and getting to know more about them, as they learn more about him. He also loves music. One of his future goals is to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. However, his immediate goal and purpose in life is to have a positive impact both on and off the court. There is no doubt that Jabari Parker is a name that people will be hearing for some time to come. The video below highlights the first 18 years of his remarkable life and career.
Keith L. Brown
Keith L. Brown is a convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, having been born and raised Baptist. He was studying to be a Baptist minister at the time of his conversion to the LDS faith. He was baptized on 10 March 1998 in Reykjavik, Iceland while serving on active duty in the United States Navy in Keflavic, Iceland. He currently serves as the First Assistant to the High Priest Group for the Annapolis, Maryland Ward. He is a 30-year honorably retired United States Navy Veteran.