Ever since their son, JaJuan JarDale Whitby, was too young to remember, LaTwon and Evetta Whitby had a feeling he would ultimately gain a passion for sports.
They just didn’t know which sport.
So to make matters less complicated, the couple purchased what they described as “a ball of all sports.”
How to explain that trend?
“He would have the tendency to throw all balls out of his crib except the basketball and baseball,” Evetta Whitby explained during a recent interview with Sports Journalist Andre Johnson. “We monitored him for months. When he began to crawl, he always had a basketball and a baseball and the same when he began to walk. We could not travel anywhere without JaJuan’s basketball and baseball. If we left the house without those two items there was no peace in the car. There were times we had to purchase more basketballs and baseballs so that they will be in each vehicle. So no matter when we left, JaJuan had a basketball or baseball in his car seat.”
A pretty clever, amusing recollection for a rising athlete who, to this very day, seems to have found his niche on the hardwood.
A 5-foot-9, 129-pound freshman, JaJuan attends Forrest City High, where he was one of the Mustangs’ marquee players for coach Christopher Williams’ ninth grade squad.
To his credit, JaJuan demonstrated time and again why even as an infant, he was destined to enjoy success at playing competitive basketball.
For starters, he was as good as advertised, averaging better than 15 points per game as one of Forrest City’s featured ninth graders.
In addition, he asserted himself as a facilitator, of sorts, having amassed five assists per contest.
For his favorable, consistent efforts, scouts have already taken notice of his undeniably dazzling athleticism.
According to the Whitbys, their son has generated emails of interest from a “few colleges.”
Not only that, JaJuan’s stock seems to be steadily rising, considering he’s received invites to appear at a number of credible camps, most notably the Elite 80 Scout Focus Camp with ESPN Recruiting Director Mr. Paul Binacardi.
“I have had the privilege to attend Scout Focus Elite 80 in Indianapolis, Indiana directed by Mr. Joe Davis a few weekends ago,” JaJuan said. “It was an experience I will never forget, it was such a joy to attend.”
Aside from basketball, JaJuan has become a fixture in his community, considering he
volunteers several hours weekly at the St. Francis County Food Pantry, where his father is the director.
In addition, he volunteers in helping the homeless, sick and shut-ins, the elderly.
“It has really become a passion that I have grown to love,” JaJuan explained. “I am a member of YAC- Youth Advisor Council. I am a member of FCCLA, Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America. I volunteer with Toys for Tots during Christmas. I also volunteer with FCA United; I am usually one of the costume characters for the children.”
Overall, JaJuan’s parents are thoroughly impressed by their son’s commitment to excellence — on and off the court.
“There’s no limit for our children,” LaTwon Whitby said. “For the bible tells us, ‘With God all things are possible,’ and it also says, ‘I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.’ We have taught him to always keep God first. No matter what the situation may be, God allowed it and only He can see him through it. We taught him to always stay focus and stand on his now faith daily. For the bible says, ‘Now Faith is the substance of things hoped for the evidence of things not seen.’”
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Andre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. A 2000 graduate of the University of Memphis School of Journalism, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division from Dallas, Texas. To reach Johnson, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.