theGrio’s 100: Jabari Parker, high school phenom plays with purpose

This April 12, 2012 file photo shows Simeon Career Academy's Jabari Parker, right, talking with NBA great Alonzo Mourning after Mourning surprised Parker with the Gatorade National Boys Basketball Player of the Year award, in Chicago. The prized prospect is to announce his college choice at a news conference at his high school, Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green, File)

This April 12, 2012 file photo shows Simeon Career Academy's Jabari Parker, right, talking with NBA great Alonzo Mourning after Mourning surprised Parker with the Gatorade National Boys Basketball Player of the Year award, in Chicago. The prized prospect is to announce his college choice at a news conference at his high school, Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green, File)

Who is Jabari Parker?

Sports Illustrated dubbed a then 17-year-old LeBron James “The Chosen One” in 2002. Last year, the magazine named Chicago’s Jabari Parker the best high school basketball player since James. For Parker’s sake, you can just call him one of the most decorated high school basketball players in hoops’ history and someone Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel says is a “role model for kids.”

Why is he on theGrio’s 100?

Parker, 17, has already been named Gatorade’s National Boys Basketball Player of the Year and won three state titles for Chicago’s Simeon Career Academy. (2011 NBA MVP Derrick Rose is an alum) And he’s not even done his senior season yet. Parker’s also making news for his commitment to his faith: Mormonism.

“I realize why I’m in the position I’m in right now,” Parker told Sports Illustrated in May last year. “It’s not because of me. It’s because of God.” 

According to the New York Times, Parker “abides by Mormon customs,” regularly attending Bible study before class and refusing to smoke or drink alcohol. In a city making headlines too often for gang violence, Parker is among the reasons Chicago is smiling.

What’s next for Parker?

Parker will attend Duke University in the fall, making his announcement in front of classmates and national media in December. He was coveted by all of the top Division 1 programs, but ultimately Duke and their legendary coach Mike Krzyzewski won Parker over.

“You can’t go wrong at the program and most importantly, the long-term investment,” Parker said about his decision. “I feel like if I go there, I can get a good degree. I can also stay close to home where it’s easily accessible to my parents, my family. It’s not too far away.”

Parker said he would not take time away from college when he turns 19 to serve his church on a mission to spread faith. (as thousands of other Mormon men do at that age) He said a mission may be in his future but, for now, Parker is likely to be wearing a NBA uniform for the start of next year’s season.

Follow Jabari Parker on Twitter @JabariParker22