Former professional basketball player Jonathan Triplett has an important message for middle and high school students — steer clear of negative influences. And he’s found the optimum source for audiences — middle and high school gymnasiums.
This semester alone, Triplett has travelled to six schools across the state with his anti-drug, pro-learning message.
Meanwhile, school officials from across the state have been heaping praise on Triplett’s influential abilities: “I can only describe this success story as a rare and genuine testimony straight from the heart,” a thank-you letter from a Tulsa high school official stated. “He has a passion for young people and he related directly to both girls and boys alike. Jonathan warns about the pitfalls and hurdles one faces growing up in today's impoverished world.”
It’s the praise from students themselves that makes the most difference to Triplett, though, like this from a student at a local high school: “I want to applaud you for the courage of speaking so openly about your personal life. I do not think I will ever be able to do that.”
Triplett credits his own experience as the reason his presentations are so well received. Raised by his grandmother in Fort Smith, Ark., he started working when he was 14 years old because, “If I wanted clothes I had to. We didn’t have much money, so if there was something I needed for school I had to work for it,” he said. “I was making $60 to $70 a week, trying to help the family make ends meet. I’ve held a job almost as long as I can remember. I’ve worked in every restaurant in Fort Smith.”
Triplett played basketball in his free time and came to love it. He scored high enough on his ACT to begin his higher education and went to a nearby junior college to work on his grades.
Later, Triplett took his skills to Oklahoma State University in the small forward position. He used one of his two years of remaining eligibility before taking off on a professional basketball career that included stops in Europe, South America, China, Mexico, Indonesia, the Philippines and Turkey.
Triplett is the intramural sports director at Oklahoma City University. During his time at OCU he has added certifications to his repertoire in drug and alcohol abuse counseling, DUI, suicide prevention, and drug and alcohol assessments. Triplett has also attended domestic violence and sexual assault training to become a YWCA advocate.
During the summer, he combines two of his passions — helping young people succeed and the game of basketball — with a camp designed for children in grades four through 12. This year’s camp will be July 11 through 15 on the OCU campus.
For more information about his guest speaking topics and the camp visit www.1stclassindividuals.com.