You'd think a guy in his early 20s who packed a resume like Jimmer Fredette, who just had a book come out, who was on a coast-to-coast book tour would somehow let it go to his head.
Nope. Jimmer is the same kid that walked out of the gym at Glens Falls, N.Y., half a dozen years ago — a simple, friendly, gracious guy. On Monday, his high school retired his jersey, the only such honor ever given to one of its athletes. Fredette was touched and grateful to represent his community.
The honor took place the first day of his book tour, a published work written by veteran, award-winning sportswriter Pat Forde.
"It was a special moment; it made me feel great," said Fredette of the jersey retirement ceremonies. "It made me realize people back there still follow me and still believe in me and they are people who have helped me a lot."
The book, entitled "The Contract: Jimmer Fredette," is a reflective narrative on the relationship Jimmer had with his older brother T.J., how one reached his dreams and the other — because of a debilitating disease that prevented him from reaching his athletic dreams — devoted his life to his younger brother who became The Jimmer.
The book provides behind-the-scenes insight of the Fredette family, background of his parents Al and Kay and the bloodlines that set the tone for a competitive, athletic atmosphere in the Fredette home.
Forde, who is not a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also included a chapter on Fredette's LDS faith, carefully explaining his beliefs in a world where Mormons have come under the spotlight from the 2012 presidential race to Broadway.
Fredette made the media rounds this week in Utah upon his return from New York with stops at BYU's campus bookstore and Deseret Book in Orem.
"It's definitely exciting for myself and my family," Fredette said of the book. "To be able to share some stories and things that they haven't heard before is fun. People have heard about me but they haven't heard about things my brother and my parents have gone through, and stories about growing up and living a dream come true."
Fredette said he has tried to put basketball in perspective and still thinks of himself as that chubby kid who begged to play in pickup games with older kids. He hopes with all that has happened in his life, his national player of the year honors in college and getting drafted with the 10th overall pick in the NBA Draft, that he's been able to remain the same.
"Basketball is great and so much fun and it has taken me to so many places. I've been in the public eye a lot and it has given me so many great experiences, but hasn't changed the person I am. I try to stay grounded. I try to remain humble, grateful and remember where I came from and that I didn't do any of this by myself; I've had a lot of help along the way and now that I'm in this position it's fun and I'm able to give back and help people reach their goals. Basketball will come and go, but the person you are will always remain."
Fredette said his summer marriage to Whitney, a former BYU cheerleader, is the best decision he's made and will help him in the NBA. He says marriage has changed him a lot and having a partner to share his ups and downs will prove valuable.
"Whitney is an amazing girl and so supportive of me and now when I travel, she can travel with me so I don't have to go at it alone and don't have to worry about that part of my life and she will be there to support me just like I will be there to support her. "
Fredette said thinking and worrying about basketball all the time can, sometimes, hurt a player. "The last three months has been great and I'm excited in what the future holds. Whitney is the best, she is so kind to everyone, understanding of my schedule and knowing what I have to do. She is supportive, just like I am with her."
Fredette said his preparations for his second season in the NBA are far ahead of a year ago with a minicamp under his belt and knowledge of what he needs to do and what he cannot do.
"Mentally, I'm more prepared."
He said he's worked extensively on his offense and defense, worked to create space and get his shot off quicker and worked on the pick-and-roll — a play he must master at that level.
"I'm working on making floaters and other things that have to be a part of my game. I'm better than a year ago, my skills are better and I'm excited about the season and being part of it."
"The Contract: Jimmer Fredette" hit the shelves of Deseret Book, Walmart, Costco and other retailers Sept. 17. (Shadow Mountain Publishing, $23.99, hardcover.)
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