“For it is in giving that we receive.’’
– St. Francis of Assisi
Jabari Parker can fully relate to those words.
He has derived an untold amount of satisfaction over the years in giving, a gift that was passed along to him by his parents Sonny and Lola.
The elder Parkers, who have been married 28 years, taught Jabari and his three siblings — Iman, Tilah and Christian – the importance of helping others.
Jabari, now 21, can vividly recall the first time he and father went together to the Salvation Army on Chicago’s West Side to hand out food on Thanksgiving Day.
“I was 10 when we did that,’’ said Parker, the Milwaukee Bucks talented forward. “My dad made it real important that we give to less fortunate on the most important days because those who are fortunate can provide for themselves during that time of year. It’s all about the ones who aren’t so blessed.’’
Since joining the Bucks in 2014 after being the second overall pick in the NBA draft, Parker has frequently and quietly been lending a hand in the Milwaukee community.
His latest act of kindness occurred on Tuesday. That’s when he went to the Capuchin Community Services’ House of Peace in Milwaukee after having purchased turkey dinners for 150 local families.
Parker mingled with the families, helped pass out the food and gave them a voucher for pair of tickets to the Bucks’ game against the Toronto Raptors on Friday night at the Bradley Center.
To Parker, he was only following in the footsteps of his father, a former NBA player himself who has been actively involved in Chicago for more than two decades.
In 1990, the elder Parker created the Sonny Parker Youth Foundation. The non-profit organization provides year-round educational and recreational programs for inner-city children from kindergarten through high school.
Sonny’s giving made a huge impression on Jabari.
“He’s the reason why I am the person today and why I’m so charitable,’’ Jabari said. “I have seen what he’s done throughout his life and what he did for kids and what he did through his foundation.’’
Told of Jabari’s comments, Sonny responded by expressing his admiration for Jabari. Sonny said he admired how his son has matured and come to see the big picture in life.
“My wife and I are really proud of Jabari,’’ Sonny said. “I always taught him to be a team player, not just on the court but off it too. That’s why he goes around the community as much as he does. We always talk about treating people the way you want to be treated. Everybody is important; everybody has a role in life.
“All of our children do it (volunteering). They all do it unconditionally. They do it willingly, it’s not forced. They see what it does when you help others. You feel good about it. You really do.’’
Sonny then paused added, “Jabari once told me, ‘Dad, I play basketball; that’s what I do. But it’s not who I am. It doesn’t define me as a person.’
“To Jabari, it’s more important being a better person than basketball player. He wants to be servant. His reward is helping people.’’
Jabari said giving has become an integral part of his life, and it’s not something he’s about to give up doing.
“Giving to others … that’s the biggest blessing,’’ Parker said. “You feel great by helping others. If you can bless others, that’s the biggest enjoyment that you can have.’