Two famous Mormon athletes have unintentionally become mass media magnets.
Jabari Parker, a highly-touted high school basketball player from Chicago, is making news for not talking to the press.
Will Hopoate, an Australian rugby star, is breaking news for not watching rugby because he’s serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Both young men can’t walk down the street without making headlines.
Parker, who will start his senior year at Simeon High in the fall, was featured in the Chicago Tribune this week. The article by Mike Helfgot details how his parents cultivated a strong family environment in which he has thrived as a person and basketball player. The family wall is also intended as a perimeter of protection. Recruiters have to go through her to get to her son.
“No coaches have Jabari Parker’s phone number, period,” Lola Parker told Helfgot.
This ESPN blog says Parker’s father won’t allow coaches to text his son.
Michigan State coach Tom Izzo is one of many coaches in line to recruit Parker.
This Yahoo! Sports commentary talks about the big decision Parker has to make between serving an LDS mission and playing basketball.
“Parker will be an NBA lottery pick once he does a year in college. But at age 19, Mormons are ‘expected’ to go on a mission,” wrote Adam Biggers. “I’m not a man of church-related faith, so I can’t put myself in his shoes. … It was refreshing to see a young man with millions of dollars in his future entertain the idea of doing something for others for free, rather than being selfish. He’s weighing his options, studying his future and deciding whether to potentially pass up a truckload of cash or to live modestly, humbly serving his religion, in another country.”
Hopoate has passed the 6-month mark in his two-year mission and his entirely focused on missionary work, according his article by Couriermail.com. The professional rugby player who left millions on the table to serve a mission has not watched a single minute of rugby so far.
“I don’t regret anything, I’m having a great time,” Hopoate said. “This is what I treasure. It is amazing to see people grow through Jesus Christ.”
This video tells more about why Hopoate sacrificed rugby to serve a mission.