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1. On the court, show no mercy. 2. Off the court, show kindness.


Portland Got Him; He Got Portland.

Jerome Kersey, Baby Boomer.

Somehow that doesn’t sound right, does it? He’s not old enough.

Besides, baby boomers have a different image associated with them.

Maybe that will change once we see the scope of the boomer generation.

Who better to put up as an example than Jerome?

On the official record he was married once.

He has one child.

Why is this blog-worthy? Because he played in the same NBA as Shawn Kemp.

Jerome leaves us with the sort of achievements others need to follow.

He came to Portland to show he belonged in the NBA, not Europe.

Instead of making due with the game he had, he added weapons and became a player to contend with.

How many people do you know who leave things at ‘good enough?’ Their dreams don’t get the sort of response Jerome got.

Look in the dictionary for an example of Play Hard. If Jerome’s picture isn’t there, it should be.

From the expression he wore on the court, opponents got the message: It’s going to be a rough night.

You’re going to score on me? You’re going to drive on me? Not tonight.

Teams knew something was different with Jerome when he jumped center at 6’7″.

He was a high flyer on a team with Clyde Drexler playing above the rim.

Jerome added a stable jump shot to his repertoire by spending summers in Portland and working with coaches.

He showed the Portland Trail Blazers his drive the way Greg Oden never did.

With one wife and one kid on the official count, Jerome also knew how to keep the private life of a single NBA player off the front page.

Read the stories and comments about him and you’ll see the same thing repeated over and over: He made time for people.

When the people he worked to change are young NBA guys of today, they listened.

More than a decade on one team is rare. Most of the time the player wears out his welcome, or chases money.

Jerome didn’t leave under a cloud. He didn’t bounce around the league because he didn’t have something better to do. He wanted that ring after two failed attempts in the finals.

What player today wouldn’t do the same thing? Every one.

Not leaving any lose strings, Kersey even went back to college for his degree.


“…the reason he returned to college had something to do with the question asked by his daughter.

Eleven-year-old Kiara one day asked her father why the sky was blue. Kersey wasn’t prepared to give her a very good answer.

That wasn’t the sole inspiration for Kersey to finish his degree, but it was one more bit of impetus.

During his course work this past semester, Kersey learned why the sky was blue.

“I was able to tell her about the radiant prism and go into all the atoms and how they break down, ” Kersey said.

“She started asking, ‘What’s an atom? What’s a molecule?’ She tried to take it a little deeper. She is an honor roll student.”

Kersey’s daughter also is a very good basketball player. He realized that one day he was going to have the “value of education” talk with her. And he understood that his credibility would be greater if he had an undergraduate degree.

He contacted officials at Longwood and asked if there was a way he could finish his course work from his home in the Portland suburb of Clackamas, Oregon.

With the Internet, e-mail and telephones, distance learning is not the obstacle it once was. In January, Kersey enrolled in Longwood’s Physics 101 and Social Work 490: Directed Study in Social Work.

He received his diploma last Saturday.

“I’ve never been a person who started something, then didn’t finish it, ” Kersey said. “This had been looming over me all these years. And I thought it set a good precedent for my daughter.”

“His work was complete and thorough and the commitment he has to social justice came through quite clearly, ” said Dr. Theresa Clark, associate professor of social work and coordinator of the social work program.

Dr. Charles Ross, dean of the college of arts and sciences, was Kersey’s physics teacher.

“I’ve never worked with anyone who had such a long gap between leaving school and returning, ” Ross said. “I think it says a lot about him that he would make this kind of effort.”

Kersey had tried this before. One summer, he enrolled in a biology class at Portland Community College.

“Summers in Portland are absolutely beautiful, ” Kersey said. “And I would go to class and the sun would be out, and I would think, ‘Oh my gosh, here I am sitting in a four-hour lab. I can’t do this.’ ”

And he didn’t. But if he had, the, “Why is the sky blue?” question might not have made such an impression on him.

“It’s not like I was doing this to get a promotion or a pay raise, ” Kersey said. “The reason I did it was worth more than that.””

Start something and see it through. Do it for your kids, your friends, yourself.

You don’t know the people you effect the most, people who rise by your example.

But doing something because you want to set a better example for your kid is a great place to start.

Staying in Portland to help the Blazer community speaks volumes.

A strong male influence from the right man opens doors.

For those who grew up without that influence, Jerome filled in the gaps.

He was a dad for people who didn’t know they missed having one.

That’s the connection I see here with players and fans.

Look at the face in the picture above again. You’re going to be honest with Jerome Kersey and he’s going to be honest with you.

That’s his Mercy Rule. Now I miss my own dad.



About David Gillaspie
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