Dallas Mavericks star Jason Terry has something else on his mind besides a NBA championship. Dallas fans have nothing to worry about but he is chasing another championship that means a great deal to him. Terry coaches his daughter Jasionna’s AAU team and the girls are gunning for a national title.
In an odd twist, 12-year old Jasionna finds herself in a similar situation to that of her father. The younger Terry is a shooting guard on the nation’s second-ranked girls sixth-grade AAU team, and she’s trying to overcome a bitter defeat last year.The team took second place at the 2010 AAU Nationals Tournament held in Nashville, Tennessee.
That winning team’s nickname? The Mavericks.
So this year we have a father trying to avenge prior losses by the Mavericks (he was part of the team that blew a 2-0 Finals lead, and a part of the team that won a franchise-record 67 games only to lose to the 8th-seeded Warriors) and his daughter’s team trying to avenge a prior loss to the Mavericks – by one point, in fact.
Many NBA and WNBA players got their first chance to shine on the court through AAU Basketball. It’s where they learned how to shoot a jump-shot, set a pick and guard a defender. So to give back to an organization that allowed them to learn the game of basketball, players often support their local AAU clubs or start their own clubs. Jason Terry is no exception.
Terry, who was selected as the 2009 NBA 6th Man of the Year, has been a part of the AAU since the sixth grade and has gone to AAU Nationals three times as a player. For the past two years, he has sponsored and coached four AAU basketball teams, including the one daughter Jasionna plays on.
The team’s name is The Lady Jets, which partly comes from Terry’s initials, Jason Eugene Terry.
Most pre-teens search for their independence from their parents, but not Terry’s daughter. Jasionna says, “What I like most is being able to spend time with my dad.” With the NBA’s strenuous 82 game season, and more this year with the play-offs, quality time is in high demand.
Terry decided to coach AAU Basketball because he wants to gain coaching experience, which is probably a prelude to an NBA coaching job. Also, Terry says, “I want to give back to the community.”
NBA players want to have every possible advantage on the basketball court to win games, so they expect nothing different from their AAU teams. Terry wants his young basketball stars to learn the fundamentals of basketball, gain work ethic and discipline.
But there’s an even bigger mission wrapped up in Terry’s involvement. Turn on the television or open the newspaper and chances are you’ll find an athlete making headlines for doing the wrong things. It seems as if unsportsmanlike conduct or violating team rules has become commonplace with professional athletes.
Children see these examples and think that doing the wrong thing is okay. Terry is helping young athletes by being a positive role model.
Terry also wants to help clean up the AAU game. He wants Jasionna to spend as much time around the right people as possible, and that means protecting her from some of the seedy elements that have seeped into amateur basketball since he played.
Along with sponsoring and coaching the sixth grade girls’ Lady Jets team, Terry is also sponsoring third grade girls’, fourth grade boys’ and fifth grade boys’ basketball teams.
Terry can’t do it all by himself. But fans don’t have to worry about him not showing up for a game. He attends almost three-quarters of the Lady Jets games and the same percentage of his younger daughter’s team, the fourth-grade Little Lady Jets. He even brings in former Mavs legend Mark Aguirre to teach defense.
Terry has been giving back to communities across the country through The Jason Terry Foundation since 2000. The primary focus of the foundation is to provide inner city youths the opportunity to further their education beyond high school. Next month, they’re hosting their first annual Father/Daughter Ball, “A Royal Affair” in Dallas. It’s an evening to highlight and foster the importance of the father/daughter relationship.
With big championships coming up for both JET and the Lady Jets, we wish both teams good luck!
Follow Jason Terry on Twitter @jasonterry31