NBA star Jabari Parker was born and raised in the city of Chicago, and although his career has taken him to Milwaukee, his heart still resides in his hometown.
In an essay titled "It's Time to Talk About Chicago," penned for the website The Players Tribune, Parker discussed his upbringing in the city, avoiding violence on the South Side, and his decision to leave college after one season to head to the NBA.
Most importantly however, he discussed what he envisioned for the future of Chicago, including what he, and all citizens, need to do to fix the issue of violence in the city:
“I want to become a teacher after I get out of the league, and help show kids what my dad and Ms. Reed showed me: There’s more out there than the gangs, than the liquor stores, than the violence. So next year, I’m going to start taking summer classes and working toward getting my degree.
“It’s hard to be optimistic and hopeful that things will change in Chicago. But I am. I have to be. Because if I don’t have that attitude, then the kids there won’t believe that things can get better. But things are going to get better.”
Parker cited his free basketball camp as an example of what citizens can do to get kids off the streets and into productive after-school activities, and also emphasized teaching kids that instead of striving to become an athlete, they should aspire to be “the next Steve Jobs” instead.
Parker, who attended Simeon Career Academy, has averaged 13.6 points and 5.2 rebounds per game since joining the Bucks prior to the 2014-15 season.