BYU remains very close to former basketball star Jonathan Tavernari's heart
“The No. 1 thing I want to do after basketball is, I either want to work for the church or I want to work for the BYU athletic department," he said. "Speaking four or five languages like I do, having lived outside of America for such a long time, I would love to serve in any position like that for the church or for BYU. I want to give back to the church and to BYU because they have given me so much. BYU gave me an education. Coach Rose helped me become a man. The church gave me stability and a testimony. Although the pay would be extremely different, much less than what I’ve been earning, but for me, giving back to institutions that mean so much to me would be priceless.”
Tavernari said his most memorable moment at BYU was beating Florida in the NCAA tournament, in double overtime, as a senior in 2010. It marked the Cougars’ first NCAA tournament victory in 17 years.
“Coach Rose came into the locker room and he went to a few different players,” Tavernari recalled. “He jumped on me, and we were jumping up and down, saying, ‘We finally did it!’ It was the highlight of my BYU career.”
Tavernari has been a member of the Brazilian national basketball team, and the 2016 Summer Olympics will be held in Rio de Janeiro. He played for the FIBA World Olympic qualifying team in 2008, and helped Brazil claim the gold medal at the FIBA Americas Championship in 2009.
In 2010, he averaged 11 points for Brazil as it won the South American Championships.
But he is realistic about his chances of representing Brazil in 2016, explaining that there are a lot of Brazilians playing in the NBA that will take spots on the roster. He added that he’s content to spend that summer in the United States with his wife and son and not be part of the Olympics.
While living abroad, the Tavernaris have been heavily involved in assisting the missionaries, helping people of all faiths, and serving in their wards wherever they’ve lived.
“The countries and cultures we have been a part of have been so completely different from one another but we love them all so much,” Kiri said. “That’s the thing about this journey our family is on that we weren’t prepared for. We didn’t realize that we would be falling in love with people and places everywhere we went. We didn’t realize that we would both wish to be home and wish to never leave at the same time. And we certainly never entertained the idea that our hearts would end up in a hundred different pieces, scattered across quite a few continents, and sealed up in the hearts of the most diverse groups of people around the world. But they have. And we absolutely love it.”
The Tavernaris hope to end up close to BYU after Jonathan’s playing days are over.
“BYU will always have a special place in his heart,” Kiri said. “It’s one of the places that we go when we come home. It’s special to Jonathan and me as well because I went to school there. It’s where he really found himself as a person and as a man. Being at BYU solidified in his heart all that he loves the most.”
His experiences at BYU, Tavernari said, helped prepare him for his professional career.
“My coaches know I can be a sixth man, I can be a starter, I can bring the ball up the floor, I can play the four,” he said. “I can shoot. I’m a versatile guy. The way I played at BYU was exactly what Coach Rose needed. That’s why I say I’m so blessed. I was able to do what I loved at BYU, a place where I could be successful. I hope people can remember me for that.”
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