Jimmer Fredette's record-breaking, memorable career at BYU catapulted him onto the national stage, showcased his talents, and turned him into perhaps the most intriguing prospect in Thursday's NBA Draft.
But if it hadn't been for Lindsay Peterson, Jimmer Fredette may never have played for the Cougars in the first place.
Lindsay Peterson teaches fifth grade at a school in Taylorsville, and is the mother of two young boys. It should be noted that her maiden name is Fredette, and she is Jimmer's older sister.
Jimmer's older brother, T.J., has received plenty of well-deserved credit for his role in helping Jimmer develop as a basketball player. But Lindsay has been a key part of Jimmer's life, too.
Lindsay, who is nine years older than Jimmer, left Glens Falls, N.Y., and enrolled at BYU in the late 1990s before graduating in 2003. She remained in Utah after graduation. When BYU was recruiting Jimmer, he was concerned about being 2,000 miles away from home.
"Neither of us had ever been that far away from home before. I think he saw that I was able to adjust to living out here. It made him more comfortable," Lindsay told the Deseret News. "Jimmer likes to be near his family. Knowing there was family out here to support him allowed him to make that decision. It is hard to go away from home, especially across the country. It can be a lonely experience."
Kay Fredette, the mother of Jimmer and Lindsay, said Lindsay "has been a tremendous support to Jimmer over the years. If she weren't out here, I'm not sure he would have gone that far away from home."
Lindsay should also be credited with an assist for helping Jimmer with his adjustment of living in Provo and being a BYU student.
"He was homesick for the first little while. But he could call me and I could visit him and we could get together," she recalled. "I think it made the transition smoother. He felt like he wasn't alone. That was important as he was trying to be part of a team and transition from high school to college basketball. It was important for him to have that extra support."
That support will continue when the NBA Draft unfolds this week. Lindsay Peterson and her husband, Brent, and their two sons, Jason (who will be 3 in July) and Tyler (who was born on May 16) will be traveling to Newark, N.J., for the official NBA Draft festivities at the Prudential Center.
"It will be fun," Lindsay said. "My husband and I will probably be in the general audience chasing our kids. But we'll be there. My parents, my brother, and Whitney (Wonnacott), his girlfriend, will be there in the Green Room with him. We don't want to miss it. It will be a unique thing and a special moment for Jimmer. We want to support him and celebrate with him, hopefully, afterwards. It will be an exciting moment. Something we'll remember it for a long time. We want to be able to experience it as a family."
So where would Lindsay like to see Jimmer play in the NBA?
"For my own interests, I'd to see him with the Jazz because I would be able to see him more often and he'd be close. It would be a real fun thing for me," Lindsay said. "I want to see him go somewhere that's a good situation for him, where he'll have the opportunity to improve his skills and play and learn from other players. I hope he gets with a team where the coach and (front office personnel) all value him. That's what I want the most."
When Jimmer was born, Kay named the boy James Taft Fredette, but she always called him Jimmer. However, Lindsay didn't like that name at first, and refused to called him Jimmer. "I called him James," she said. "But the name Jimmer grew on me."
Jimmer always had plenty of energy, Lindsay said.
"He was always going, and active, getting himself into whatever sport or game was going on around. My mom did not know what to do with his energy. So she hooked a chain into the ceiling with a ring on the end, and let Jimmer swing through the living room like a little Tarzan. Jimmer could get it going so he could loop all the way around in a circle through the living room. He even put a hole in the wall once."
Lindsay did what she could to help Jimmer be the best he could be, including hours spent rebounding for him.
"I kept asking him, 'When are you going to be done?' because I was getting dizzy just looking for the ball. I actually enjoyed it because it was a good workout for me. I'd rebound for him and sometimes I would do crazy things like get in his face and yell and scream as a joke. Then I'd say, 'Hey, you've got to be able to handle that.' I liked to help him out, but definitely T.J. was the one who helped him with his actual skills and develop his craft. There were lots of times when I would work out with Jimmer. I tease him that it's my rebounding and defensive skills that got him to where he is today. You go from seeing him in the church gym to working out for teams at professional gyms. It's really cool."
Lindsay is accomplished in her own right. During her high school years in Glens Falls, she played sports, earned high grades, played the violin and won the Miss New York Teen USA Pageant in 1998. Her appearance in the USA Pageant made her a celebrity in her hometown. She graduated from BYU with a degree in modern dance before getting married and becoming a school teacher.
"It's funny, because I always enjoyed school and I made my brothers play school with me at home," she said, laughing. "They didn't like that very much. Their torture ended up helping me in my profession."
Lindsay remembers her house in Glens Falls being "the center of the neighborhood. Everyone was always outside playing sports and games. We were always playing something. My brothers and I always supported each other in what we liked to do, going to games and concerts."
Lindsay says the Fredette siblings enjoy dancing.
"We all love music and when we get together with family and friends, many times we end up turning up the music and having a 'dance party.' My brothers are good dancers, too. T.J. pulls out Motown dance moves, and I usually pull out the '80s moves I learned growing up. Jimmer does more modern moves, like 'The Jerk' and the 'Harlem Shuffle.' It's fun and sometimes we turn it into a competition. This brings out the light-hearted, goofy side of Jimmer and all of us."
Lindsay said that as a big sister, she and Jimmer have always had a special relationship.
"When I would go home from college, we'd always do things together. I take him out to eat and he'd always order the same thing. We'd go play miniature golf. He beat me every time but once in his life. He's always been very competitive, and I tell him, but I beat you that one time. I always have something to hang over his head. As his older sister, I have to have that."
While Lindsay enjoyed her time at BYU, it took her some time to adjust. When Jimmer was being recruited by BYU, she spoke positively about the school, but allowed him to make his own decision.
"He was feeling that it would be a good situation for him basketball-wise," Lindsay said. "But it's hard to make that decision to go so far away from home especially when there's interest in you back there as well. I would tell him about my experiences with classes, roommates, the fun things to do on campus and unique things that are part of the BYU environment. It ties in with our faith. I told him about the great experiences I had, but I never told him go to BYU. I would encourage him by telling things about BYU, but I didn't try to sway him. He's a really good decision-maker. He listens to people but he doesn't let it sway his core beliefs. He makes really good decisions, then sticks to it."
Because she's nine years older than Jimmer, and was away at college, Lindsay missed some of his earlier accomplishments. However, during Jimmer's senior year in high school, her husband was able to move to New York so he could train for his profession, financial advising, in New York. That allowed her to watch Jimmer play as a senior. Then, she and her husband returned to Utah, enabling her to be near Jimmer for all four years of college.
'These past four years have been really awesome for me because my family has been out here with me," she said. "We've been able to share in watching Jimmer's success."
Jimmer's recently completed senior year, which saw him receive widespread national attention and earn consensus national player-of-the-year honors, was "crazy," Lindsay said.
"With media access today, people can become really well known in a short amount of time," she said. "We always could tell that Jimmer had a special talent. We always knew he would be special to his team. But to see it blow up to this magnitude has been a surreal experience. I think back to when Jimmer was little. He was just always this unassuming, happy-go-lucky kid. He was nice and he had a cute little voice and fun-loving. When we go out with him now, so many people recognize him and they know who he is and want to be around him. It's an incredible feeling. It's exciting because it means he's reaching his goals. His goal has always been to play in the NBA, which he is starting to realize. I'm just proud of it. You could tell at a young age that Jimmer was going to do something special with his life, whatever it was."
Basketball aside, Lindsay is appreciates that Jimmer knows what's most important.
"He is a wonderful uncle to my two kids," she said. "He was the first one to call me, just minutes after the delivery of my son Jason, and was the first to contact me when he found out Tyler was going to be born. He was ready to drive up to Salt Lake in the middle of the night to see me and the kids."
Now that the draft is almost here, and Jimmer is on the verge of realizing a lifelong dream of being picked by an NBA team, Lindsay and the Fredette family is relishing it all.11 comments on this story
"Sometimes you take it for granted, that Jimmer's going to the NBA. You talk about it and hope for it," she said. "This doesn't happen to a lot of families. You feel excited for him and blessed to be able to be so close to it because it's such a unique experience. He's going through a lot of things a lot of people don't experience. He's doing something he loves and can make a good living for his family. It's an amazing feeling to get an inside peek at that type of life. It's pretty amazing. I'm proud of him. He's been blessed with opportunities. Hopefully he will continue to be a good influence. He's done a great job so far."