Dick Harmon: BYU's Harvey Unga returns to Chicago to make NFL dream work

Published: Monday, May 21 2012 11:00 p.m. MDT

This past month, Harvey hosted his second cousin, Chicago prep sensation Jabari Parker, who appeared on the cover of last week's Sports Illustrated as the No. 1 high school basketball player in the nation. Parker came to Provo during LDS conference and stayed at the home of Jackson Unga. Back in the late '80s, Parker's mother, Lola, regularly visited the Ungas in Provo in the last months of the life of Jackson's mother, Lulama.

"He's a fantastic person and aside from his great basketball talent, he is an amazing young man," said Harvey of Parker.

Did Harvey put in a word about his alma mater with Parker?

"I threw a little something in there to pique his interest," he said.

I asked him if he thought his son Jackson, Jr., would be a football player someday, just like his dad.

He laughed.

"I hope not. I hope he plays basketball or baseball or golf."

So, what does Harvey Unga believe people can learn from his story so far in his young life?

"Perseverance," he answered. "I've had a lot of curveballs thrown my way and a lot of it, I would say, was brought on by myself. But at the end of the day, I'm a firm believer that God doesn't give us anything we can't handle and as long as you learn from your mistakes, that's where people start to make progress by leaps and bounds.

"From my trials and tribulations, I've learned that life is worth living."

Unga said people who dream big dreams should never give up on them — being in the NFL has been in his mind ever since he was a kid growing up in Provo.

"I've had many roadblocks on the way, but if there is a dream out there and you really want it, you should do everything you can to get it."

email: dharmon@desnews.com

twitter: Harmonwrites

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