On the evening of Sunday, Aug. 19, Jabari Parker — the country's number one high school basketball player — filled the 1,600-seat inter-stake center on the grounds of the Oakland California Temple. Members of the Church and friends from throughout the Bay Area community attended to hear a message of faith and inspiration from the 17-year-old basketball sensation, who also happens to be a Latter-day Saint.
The devotional, organized by the Oakland California East Tongan Stake, featured Jabari; his returned missionary brother, Christian; and mother, Lola Finau Parker. Sister Parker grew up in Salt Lake City and served a mission to Tonga prior to her marriage to former Golden State Warriors NBA player Sonny Parker.
Sister Parker spoke about what she believes is the most important thing for parents as they raise their family. "Give your time to your children. Not in front of the TV, not in front of a computer or telephone. Just give them your time." She emphasized how important it has always been for her to share with her children, each night, stories from the scriptures. She has taught her children that the answer to all of life's problems can be found in these sacred stories.
Sister Parker also spoke of the challenges of raising her children in Chicago, in a community where fellow students and friends often have different standards. She admonished the youth in the Bay Area to do what she always told her own children to do: "Tell your friends that you don't smoke, that you don't drink, and that you don't do other things. They will respect you for it and not try to tempt you."
She emphasized that Heavenly Father loves all of His children. It does not matter if they're famous, or if they have strengths and gifts in different areas. She said she often tells Jabari that he has been given his great talent as an athlete so that he can bring others unto Christ.
Jabari's brother, Christian, shared some of his mission experiences in Atlanta, Ga. He encouraged the youth to be strong examples and not to doubt themselves.
Jabari's comments were preceded by a viewing of a June 14, 2012, passionately passionately Good Morning America segment featuring him with Katie Couric as he talked about being a member of the Church and the strength it brought to him. (The segment can be found at http:
Jabari began his remarks thanking President Tiamani Lauti of the Oakland California East Stake for organizing the devotional, and expressed surprise that so many people were there to listen to him.
Jabari told the audience about leading his high school to its third consecutive state championship earlier this year. No Chicago high school team had ever won three consecutive championships. He was feeling great pressure.
He said as he prayed, a scripture mastery verse he learned in seminary came to mind,Proverbs 3:5, "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding." He felt great peace. He also thought of counsel given by his bishop, who liked to quote the Latin phrase humbly humbly carpe diem, or "seize the day." For Jabari, it meant to "always treat everything positively. You never know how it will end. Always be grateful and think positively."
Like his mother, Jabari encouraged the youth in the Bay Area to be strong, and to stand up for what is right. "A lot of people will pressure you to do things you're uncomfortable with. If you stay true to your faith, true to your beliefs, you will be fine. People respect you for being your own person." He asked the young men to stay strong all through high school and to support one another through their priesthood quorums.
In closing, Jabari spoke about the importance of being a good example. "We will all have opportunities to teach the gospel and to be a good example. It can happen anytime, anyplace," he said.