Jayveous McKinnis has only been playing basketball for two full seasons now and oozing with potential, Brandon High School's number 21 signed his letter of intent with Jackson State.
The full scholarship is the beginning of a new chapter for McKinnis, but even more, it’s the fulfillment of a promise to the man that motivates his everyday.
Every time Jayveous McKinnis rattles the rim, there’s one person that comes to mind.
"I’m just thinking like what would he do in this situation and stuff like that," said McKinnis. "And I’m trying to be better."
But before McKinnis could thrive on the court, he’d have to deal with tragedy off of it.
In August of 2015, his father Troy died of a rare kidney disease.
"It’s been a roller coaster still dealing with the death of his father," said Jayveous's mother, Chiquita Williams. "So it’s been a roller coaster, but it’s been good too with family support."
Unable to fulfill his own dreams of playing college basketball, Jayveous made his father one final promise before his death.
"I promised that I was going to keep the torch going for basketball-wise," explained McKinnis. "Basketball is real special to me and it was special to him, so I’ve got to keep it going.
"His dad didn’t finish playing basketball when he went to college because he was sick," said Williams. "So Jay promised to walk in his shoes and fulfill that promise."
A promise he is well on his way to fulfilling and with dad as motivation, and mom as his rock, family ensured Jayveous stayed on the right path.
Williams: "I feel thrilled because I stay on him a lot," added Williams. "So you know, sometimes I’m constantly just fussing or trying to direct him, and to know that he’s listening to everything that I’m saying it feels good."
After graduating from Brandon, Jayveous will lace it up JSU this season with the hopes of donning Troy’s favorite number - 21.
Fred Barnes: "I was glad to know Troy like that and I know he would be very proud of his son, any father would," said Brandon High's Head Basketball Coach, Fred Barnes. "To see that his son was able to follow in his footsteps and may be able to take it even a step further."
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