Our take: Jabari Parker isn't only the best high school basketball player right now, but he is also a devout member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In these week's cover story on Sports Illustrated, Parker discusses basketball and his faith with Jeff Benedict. Benedict and SI executive editor B.J. Schecter talked with the Deseret News' Jeff Call about their story on Parker. Below is an expert of the Sports Illustrated story:
The backpack that Jabari Parker takes everywhere contains all the expected items: a pair of Nikes, socks with the NBA logo, basketball shorts, T-shirts, Icy Hot gel, a couple of rolls of athletic prewrap, and an iPod loaded with rap and R&B. But there's also a paperback copy of The Book of Mormon. Jabari belongs to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. "Basketball is what I do," he says. "It's not who I am."
Jabari's father, Sonny, who played for the Warriors from 1976 to '82, is not a Mormon, but his wife, Lola, is a lifelong member of the church, and their four children have been raised as Mormons. Jabari's religion makes him a minority on two fronts. Mormons make up just 1.7% of the U.S. population. And of the 6.2 million Mormons in the U.S., only about 186,000, or 3%, are black. At Simeon, Jabari is one of only two Mormons out of 1,588 students.
"I used to have to explain to a lot of my friends that not all Mormons are from Utah, and not all Mormons are white," Sonny says. "There are a lot of misunderstandings about the Mormon faith."