March 8, 2011

TJ Fredette Helps his brother Jimmer Become a Winner

Today you'll find the story of TJ Fredette, Jimmer Fredette's brother.  I love this story because it shows how much brothers and sisters can help each other.  My husband Scott recently accepted a new church job that seems really challenging.  He has called his brothers and sisters for help, and they have given him courage to face this exceptional responsibility.
In the January 2011 Sports Illustrated magazine, there's an article called "A Real Jimmer Dandy."  It's all about how Jimmer Fredette became such a great basketball player.  It was all because of his older brother TJ.  Quoting from the article:
It was TJ who told him that being able to score when things were against him was what made a good player great.  It was TJ who spent a good part of his childhood instilling in Jimmer the value of hard work, persistence and unshakable focus, never imagining how this investment in his little brother's future would help save his own.
Jimmer has heard the doubts his whole life:  He was too slow, too short, too chubby, too white to play at the next level.  Even his Mormon faith… was evidence of some perceived lack.  "People wondered, How tough can he really be?"  says his Dad.  Jimmer's most steadfast supporter was TJ, who recognized a prodigy in his chunky little brother.  "He was the most determined, competitive 4 year old I had ever seen," says TJ, who is seven years older.  Playing with TJ and TJ's friends on the family's backyard court, Jimmer developed range—at five he could drain a three [pointer]—and an arsenal of head fakes, scoop shots and floaters to get around the long limbs.  "He willed himself to find ways to win, even if he was physically outmatched," says TJ.  "From the time he was 10, I was telling everybody he was going to make the NBA."
At eight Jimmer graduated to pickup ball with his Dad and TJ against adults at [a local] park, then Hoop It Up tournaments, then trips to New York City for no-foul games on the blacktop "that toughened him up." Says his Dad.  Jimmer's development was a family affair.  But TJ, a point guard on [his High School] team was his best friend and greatest inspiration.  "I wanted to be like him at such a young age that I think it helped me with my development," says Jimmer. Jimmer excelled at other sports, but [baseball and football practice] bored him.  Practicing basketball was fun.  TJ made it fun. 
TJ helped Jimmer hone his free throw form by pretending every shot had a game on the line.  "He'd make so many in a row that I had to make stuff up," TJ says.  "O.K. now you're playing at the Olympics.  Now you make this shot, and you feed all the people of the world." 
TJ made up one drill he called the Gauntlet, for which Jimmer, TJ and his ever obliging friends would gather in a dark, narrow hallway at the Latter-day Saints church in nearby Queensbury.  The only light was at the end of the hall, so Jimmer had to keep his head up as he dribbled forward, practicing his crossover and spin moves as the older boys randomly popped out of doorways to try to rattle him.  By the time Jimmer was 18 and old enough to join TJ and his friends games against inmates at two prisons, nothing fazed him. 
Then TJ got sick.  "The only think that kept me going was [Jimmers] games; they were everything to me," says TJ.   "I get so much joy out of his success," he says.  (Anderson)
TJ got better and now travels to see Jimmer play with BYU whenever he can.  And Jimmer is the star player on BYU's basketball team.  Some say he's unstoppable.  One coach Jim Christensen said, "The best way to defend him is to try to keep the ball out of his hands."  (Anderson)
I like this story because it shows so well how brothers can help each other.  TJ had faith in Jimmer, then he taught him skills, and pushed him to perform at his best.  Jimmer followed his brother's teaching, practiced often and kept trying.  This process repeated over many years made Jimmer a winner!

Anderson, Kelli. "A Real Jimmer Dandy." Sports Illustrated 31 Jan 2011: 44-47. Print.

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