Growing up in the South Side of Chicago, Jabari Parker witnessed countless crimes, shootings and arrests at a young age. Since he was prone to violence at an adolescent, he realized that he needed to make a change.
He didn’t want to stay, and he realized that he didn’t need to. Almost like the grass is sometimes greener on the other side.
Jabari did have a great mentor in his life, his father, Sonny Parker. Sonny Parker had a solid NBA career, but when he retired he decided to return to Chicago. Why? So he could help out the kids in the neighborhood.
He eventually started the Sonny Parker Youth Foundation, which helps kids stay in school and get them ready to go off to college.
Another key mentor in Jabari Parker’s life was his history teacher Ms. Reed. She really pushed him to get out there and make a change, and to make a name for yourself.
Around the same time as taking her 7th grade history class, Jabari was just embarking on his basketball journey as he joined an AAU team.
Some games were played in North Shore, which was like a different world from where Jabari went to school and grew up. He realized how much nicer their facilities were, and in that moment he knew that basketball would be his ticket out of the city.
Jabari was a successful student, with a 3.6 GPA and a basketball prodigy out of Simeon High School. He was heralded as the best high school basketball player, even better than LeBron James when he was at St. Vincent-St. Mary’s.
All of these accolades landed him at Duke University, where he would further his basketball craft under coaching legend Mike Krzyzewski. Jabari had an outstanding freshman year of college, where he averaged 19 points, 8 rebounds and 1 assist. He did have a ridiculous 28 PER and shot the ball exceptionally well at 47%.
However, Duke was bounced in the first round of the 2014 NCAA tournament which was completely unexpected. Jabari would have to make the biggest decision of his life much sooner than anticipated. Should I stay? Or should I go to the NBA?
He ultimately declared for the NBA draft, but it wasn’t the fame or money that appealed the most to Parker.
Jabari was the true definition of a student-athlete. He loved going to class, reading new books and learning new information. He wanted to get his degree, but Jabari wanted to put his family into a better place.
He doesn’t want to be remembered as a basketball player, but as a role model for his city and community.
After his basketball career is all set and done, Jabari’s aspiration is to return to Duke and get his degree.
Jabari Parker, from humble beginnings, will never forget where he comes from.