SALT LAKE CITY — One of the top high school basketball players in the nation and his family are hoping to reach out to the LDS Polynesian and African-American communities of Utah while he is on a Thanksgiving weekend recruiting trip to BYU.
Jabari Parker, a senior basketball star at Chicago's Simeon High School and member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is scheduled to speak at the Salt Lake University LDS Institute of Religion, adjacent to the University of Utah, on the evening of Nov. 25, according to his brother, Christian Parker.
Folola Finau-Parker, Jabari's mother, was born in Tonga and raised in the Salt Lake City area. Many of her family members and longtime friends requested the family come for a devotional so a reunion could take place.
"There will be a lot of African-American members coming out to the fireside, and obviously the Polynesian community, because this will be one of very, very few times my mother would have been back to Utah since she left when I was born," Christian Parker said.
The institute is not officially sponsoring the event, only providing the venue. Richard Kaufusi, stake president of the LDS Salt Lake Cannon Stake, will preside at the devotional, which is scheduled to run from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Families are invited to attend, although messages will be primarily focused toward the youths.
The event is set for the same weekend that Parker will be in Utah to make his official visit to BYU. Parker has already made official visits to Michigan State, Duke and Florida.
Jabari Parker spoke at a similar fireside in Oakland, Calif., last August when he visited Stanford. More than 2,000 attended the evening program and listened to messages from Folola, Christian and Jabari Parker. The family remained long after it was over so Jabari could shake hands and pose for photos.
"It worked out really well," Christian Parker said. "It was a good experience for our family."
The Parkers will follow a similar format in Salt Lake, Christian Parker said. Folola Finau-Parker will likely speak first, followed by sons Christian and Jabari. And like before, the themes will likely include the challenges of parenthood, preparing for and serving a mission, and being an example to others. Afterwards there will be a chance for people to meet Jabari Parker and snap a photo.
"I think it will be a good way for people to feel a little bit of Jabari's diligence in trying to be a good kid," Christian Parker said.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: tbtoone