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‘He was able to relate:’ Bucks’ Jabari Parker recovers from knee injuries alongside fan; a high school athlete

MILWAUKEE — When you are a competitor, having to sit on the sideline while recovering from an injury can be frustrating and even depressing. Two young Milwaukee-area athletes, one a professional and one a high schooler, have become united in recovery.

As one of the highest profile players on the Milwaukee Bucks roster, Jabari Parker’s two knee injuries and his subsequent recoveries have gotten lots of attention. He has learned patience the hard way and is methodically approaching a return to game action.

Jabari Parker

Jabari Parker

“I’m looking for something, improvement within myself. That makes more of a difference because I know what it takes for me to get back,” Parker said. “I know what it takes for me to get back to what I’m used to. Just getting better and better bit by little bit is on my mind.”

Jabari Parker and Olivia Budney

Olivia Budney has recovery on her mind too. She had the chance to meet Parker before a mid-January Bucks’ game. Budney is also recovering from a second serious knee injury, so they had plenty to discuss.

“It was amazing,” said Budney. “I asked him a lot of advice on how he recovered and what worked for him. He was really nice to talk to about everything.”

The sight of Parker and Budney sitting together on the bench was fitting. Parker has missed large chunks of his first and third seasons as a pro. Budney got hurt in basketball as a freshman and in soccer before her sophomore year.

Olivia Budney

Olivia Budney

“I had to train myself not to anticipate so much because I had such a long waiting period. I didn’t start playing pickup until the 11-month mark or the 10-month mark. Therefore I was just taking it day by day, worrying about what I can control,” Budney said.

Budney is a¬†sophomore at Menomonee Falls High School and a big Bucks’ fan. She had a high opinion of Parker before their meeting and that hasn’t changed one bit.

“It’s the same. I still think he’s a really good guy, very genuine and I loved talked to him,” Budney said. “He was able to relate and there was just something there… I’ll never forget … Seeing where he is now, almost back on the court, it makes me look forward to it.”

Jabari Parker and Olivia Budney

Beyond his basketball abilities, Parker has demonstrated that he wants to help make the lives of others in his community better. Budney is a firsthand example.

Jabari Parker and Olivia Budney