SALT LAKE CITY — Quietly seated at his locker, Jabari Parker understands what is most important in life: loving those around him.
His faith has helped him learn that.
“It just carried on from when I was a kid,” Parker said. “It gave me morals and the attitude I have towards other people, and that is we’re all connected in some way, somehow, or some fashion.”
Parker, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has been in the spotlight because of his ability to play basketball and the religion he practices. He was a highly sought after recruit and attended Duke for a year before being drafted.
When the time came to decide if he wanted to serve a mission, never once did he feel the pressure to serve a mission from his family, nor was he worried about backlash he might get for not going.
“I don’t care about what other people think because I’m young," Parker said. “I wasn’t pressured at all to go on one. Any decision that you have, God supports.”
Parker was drafted as the No. 2 pick to the Milwaukee Bucks in 2014. He said his faith is his backbone in the NBA.
“It’s a lot easier," Parker said. “You’re around great people every day, and you have to believe that everyone has that light. When you think about negative things and negative energy, you’ll carry that weight on your shoulders. You just have to believe that everyone is good. They’ll make their own decisions, and so be it, but we all support each other.”
When he’s on the road for basketball, he does his best to attend church. He said the most common reaction from people is surprise.
He wants balance in his life and said going to church helps him remember why he’s successful and why he’s trying to be a good person.
“I just try to be me,” he said. “Be positive, do the things that people would be proud of, and not be fake. I try to be authentic. People will accept you more when you try and be yourself.”
Being himself is what Parker said helped him bounce back from an injury last season and understand everything happens for a reason. As he continues to grow as a person, athlete and member of the LDS Church, there is one thing he wants people to know.
“The people aren’t perfect," Parker said. "No one is, but the church is. If you think about that going forward and have your own personal relationship with God and Christ, then more than likely you’ll find your way and your journey in life.”
Carra McManamon is a native of Washington State and is attending the University of Utah. Follow her on Twitter: @curramac22