Jason Preston’s Journey to Play for the LA Clippers is Unbelievable

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There are many inspiring stories in sports, but Jason Preston’s journey from a scrawny high schooler averaging two points a game to becoming a bona fide Los Angeles Clipper is stunning testament to the power of believing in yourself.

Preston scored his first points in the NBA just last week, dropping a three against the Portland Trailblazers, Wednesday, Nov. 30th. It’s an auspicious NBA scoring start for the 6’3″ 23-year-old guard from Orlando, one almost no one would have predicted five years ago. Except for maybe Preston himself.

The story of tragedy to triumph is best summed up by the announcer in this clip that’s making its rounds online:

 

Here’s how it goes: when he was a junior in high school, Preston’s mom Judith Sewell died of lung cancer. Since his father wasn’t in the picture, his aunt and uncle who lived in Jamaica became his legal guardians. Jason, however, stays in America, living in a friend’s apartment.

At this point at 6’0″ and 140lbs and pretty much a high school benchwarmer, there seemed like there was little promise he was headed for a professional career in hoops. He graduates high school and is set to attend the University of Central Florida as a regular student, when a friend invites him to play in an Amateur Athletic Union circuit. He does well and scouts tell him to go to prep school.

Preston enrolls at Believe Prep Academy in Athens, Tennessee and flourishes — he starts off on the schools D-team, and plays his way up to the A-team. But he wasn’t getting enough minutes, so he drops down to the C-team. He makes a highlight tape of his play and gets it posted on Twitter.

He relayed his video efforts to Slam:

“As the season was ending, I realized I didn’t have any film on myself and that’s something that coaches want. So after one of our tournaments, I asked for the team iPad. I’m screen recording all these clips of myself. I sent it over to one of my friends, he put it all together, like a two-minute, three-minute mix, and Believe’s Twitter page posted it.”

The video ends up landing him offers from Longwood and Ohio.

He picks Ohio, and after a rocky first year, the school decimates the team and hires a new coach. Seeing an opportunity, Preston redoubles his efforts, hits the gym hard, and according to him, puts on 20lbs eating Chipotle. He grows three inches, and takes off like a light his sophomore year, then develops into an even stronger player his junior year, garnering national attention in the process.

He declares for the 2021 NBA draft, gets picked by the Orlando Magic, then traded to the Clippers. But even when he gets to the NBA, things don’t go swimmingly at first — he hurts his foot and need surgery his rookie season.

But fast forward to this season — Preston starts to get some actual minutes. And with that, we got to see his first points in the NBA:

A truly incredible story about an inspiring young champ. And just in case you haven’t received the message, Jason Preston has some advice for you on his Twitter and Instagram:

BELIEVE IN YOU🙏🏽

-Jason Preston

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