“In the Paint” Kobe to Jarrell – “Keep shooting that thing, young fella; you putting Belize on the map.”
Those are the words of Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, ordinarily known in basketball circles as the “Black Mamba,” to Jarrell Velasquez, 25, one of Belize’s brightest and rising basketball star, following a friendly basketball game played Wednesday night in Shen Zhen, China between Jarrell’s team, Five-Star Sport, and a friendly opponent.
In that game, Jarrell exploded for 40 points, and his impressive performance did not go unnoticed under the watchful eyes of the Mamba, who after the game could not help himself in acknowledging the exceptional skills displayed by the youngster. His compliment, according to Jarrell, was reinforced further, as he was fortunate to have dinner with Kobe after the game.
Jarrell is in the first year of a three-year contract with the foreign company, Five-Star Sport, which offers training in basketball to kids and youths on a global front.
“I did so well on my first one-year contract, that the company signed me up to a three-year extension,” said Jarrell. He continued, “I have about 10 to 15 kids in my group, and aside from teaching just basketball, we also teach them to speak English.”
According to Jarrell, his company invited Kobe to their training facility, and that was how he came to be at the game. He further explained that the game was played at a professional dome, where the likes of Chris Paul and Kevin Durant have all played in.
Jarrell explained that, while his core purpose in Shen Zhen, China is to teach the game of basketball, he nevertheless plays professionally via Wild Ball, which essentially is an underground basketball league that offers foreign players the opportunity to play professionally, if not at the CBA, NBL, or NBA level – then certainly at the Wild Ball level.
Jarrell is the son of popular local artist Berne Velasquez and Julia Lewis.
With all the negativity, political corruption and scandals occurring in our little Belize, and our children being bombarded on a daily basis by these stories, it’s always uplifting to the soul to chronicle stories such as this one – a real feel-good story!!!