BROOKLYN – Come Saturday morning, Jarrett Jack is going to be a more complete man – more proud, more confident, more ready to meet the future, whatever it may be.
Jack, the Nets’ backup point guard, will fulfill a promise he made to his family and himself 10 years ago. He will get his degree in Business Management from Georgia Tech in Atlanta.
That’s a nice story. But it’s only half the story.
“It’s a big personal achievement,’’ Jack said. “Finally I’ve rounded third and hit the finish line. I can finally say I’m a college graduate.’’
That final stretch – the other half of this story - will be a whirlwind of the surreal.
Immediately after the Brooklyn Nets play the Philadelphia 76ers Friday night in Barclays Center, Jack will fly to Atlanta. Saturday morning he’ll don a graduation gown and mortarboard.
After commencement and a brief visit with his family, Jack will fly to Charlotte where he’ll lace up his high tops, slip on his No. 0 Brooklyn jersey, and take the court against the Charlotte Hornets.
What have you got planned for Saturday?!
“It’s going to be crazy,’’ Jack said. “The last graduation I had was in high school.’’
Jack, 31, left Georgia Tech in 2005 after his junior season to pursue his dream of playing in the NBA. He made a promise to his mother, Louise; his father, Carlton; his brother, Justin; and most of all, himself. He vowed to get his degree.
It’s taken 10 years. Ten years of odd looks from much younger classmates. Georgia Tech is not Cupcake U. Jack couldn’t fulfill his degree online. He had to take classes in person.
“I remember my professor was like, ‘What are you doing? You have a job that pays pretty well. What are you doing here?’ ’’ Jack said. “Man, it’s just a personal promise between me and my family.’’
Jack foolishly thought his family might forget the promise, foolish because the Jack family is one of achievers.
His father played college football for the legendary Eddie Robinson at Grambling. His brother got his college degree at Morehouse College. His mother worked for the Central Intelligence Agency.
“I’m thinking this is cool. When I get through my season, when I come back, she won’t remember,’’ Jack said. “But as soon as that last game was over, she was like, ‘OK, what classes are we taking?’ ’’
When asked why he thought his CIA mom would forget the promise, Jack paused and grinned.
“Good point,’’ said Jack, who does not know in what capacity his mom worked for the CIA.
Jack has always gotten the point, one reason he’s been a savvy, professional, NBA point guard in his 10th season. He’s always seen a life outside of basketball, a life after jump shots and assists.
“None of us can predict the future,’’ said Jack. “This thing we have playing basketball, it’s a luxury. Even if you play 15, 20 years, you still have a lot of life to live.’’
Degree in hand, Jack will be a little more ready to live that life.
“I know it’s going to be one busy day with what I have going on,” Jack said. “It’s definitely going to be worth it.’’