A positive role model: Bucks rookie Jabari Parker says he wants to inspire young people
MILWAUKEE (WITI) — Time will tell if Milwaukee Bucks rookie Jabari Parker becomes the best player in the NBA’s talented class of 2014. But this much is a slam dunk: When his career is over, Parker wants to be remembered as much for the points he scores off the court, as on.
The Bucks are counting on top draft pick Jabari Parker to fill up the stat sheet, now that he has his own NBA card. The players’ choice to win “Rookie of the Year” because his offensive game is the most polished, the 19-year-old Parker shines just as much off the court. He gives a big assist to his father Sonny — a former first round draft pick himself, with the Golden State Warriors in 1976.
“It’s just been life-changing. I see a lot of my peers without a father-figure, but I was very fortunate to have one. Just his experience, being able to pick his brain — having played with the Warriors for six years. Hopefully I can ask him for guidance as I go on this journey as a rookie,” Parker said.
In 1990, Parker’s father established the non-profit “Sonny Parker Youth Foundation” in his hometown of Chicago. It is designed to provide year-round educational, recreational and multi-cultural programs for inner-city youngsters from kindergarten through 12th grade.
As Sonny Parker sought to make a different, Jabari watched and listened. The experience has helped him to develop his core value system.
“Yes it has, because all that he supported, his selfless acts among the community — that’s just what I want to do. I want to be kind of the guy that takes the torch. Hopefully as I grow older I can inspire people to just give back and help others — because that’s what it’s all about. I just want to be that person in the future — to help the younger kids growing up,” Parker said.
Basketball Hall of Famer Charles Barkley once said athletes aren’t role models — parents should set the tone. Parker doesn’t take issue with Sir Charles about the parent part, but the young man whose playing style has been described as “throwback” says he wants to embellish what he feels is a responsibility.
“I really do take it serious. Back in the 50s and 60s — even the 40s, sports icons were looked at as heroes to a lot of kids. I think it’s our time for our generation to repeat the same thing they did during the past,” Parker said.
Andrew Wiggins was the top overall pick by Cleveland, but now that he’s about to be traded to Minnesota, Parker says he’s thankful to have been chosen second by the Bucks.
“Milwaukee is a place that I want to establish myself for a long time. They welcome me with a lot of excitement, and they embraced me. I’m willing to do whatever it takes and help this city out just with my own recognition too,” Parker said.
Parker figures that will make his father Sonny burst with pride — not that he hasn’t already.
“He’s being able to observe the type of person I’m growing into. I think he’s pretty proud,” Parker said.
Chances are Parker will make the Bucks and their fans pretty proud too — both off the court and on.