Jabari Parker, who is widely considered the top high school basketball player in the country, hails from Chicago and is LDS. BYU is one of the schools that Parker is considering.
A profile of Parker that appeared in the New York Times reveals his spiritual side, as reporter Ben Strauss details a visit to Parker's early morning seminary class.
"There also is a side to Jabari that does not attract the spotlight: The Mormon, who attends religious classes in the predawn hours three days a week. Early on a recent Monday, the 16-year-old with a 3.7 G.P.A. was at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Hyde Park, offering an opening prayer for six classmates and two teachers. 'Dear father in heaven, please bless us this morning,' Jabari said.
"The class then opened the Old Testament to Leviticus. Jabari’s is a life of dichotomies. He is an inner-city black teenager of a faith that is nearly 90 percent white. He is also a high school basketball star, with two state championships, yet he defines himself in nonbasketball terms. Jabari merges Mormon-taught humility with an athlete’s lottery-pick potential. 'Basketball is not who I am; it’s what I do,' he said, explaining that he once hoped to become an animal rights activist."
Parker has also won the USA Basketball award.
The Pittsburgh Gazette has high praise for former BYU defensive lineman and current Pittsburgh Steeler Chris Hoke, who has suffered a neck injury.
"People forget that Hoke spent two years after his freshman year at BYU on a mission to Belgium and France for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints," writes Ed Bouchette. "He spent it knocking on doors, trying to spread his faith. He then returned to BYU to pick up playing football. Two things will always stick out to me when I think of Hoke: Him dressed in a crisp, white dress shirt and a tie on Sunday morning at training camp, when he was headed to church, and his dive in the Mon River on a bitterly cold Thanksgiving Day four or five years ago after practice.
"I don't know how it came about, but Hoke took a bet from a few teammates, stripped off his shoulder pads and jumped in the river that runs next to the Steelers' practice facility. I think he earned $1,000. I told him he was nuts, that people jump in that river and disappear. He laughed and said he used to swim in rivers all the time."
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