On September 9th, 2022, the students at Mott Hall Charter School had the special opportunity to give Jalen Brunson a spirited Bronx welcome as they cheered the newest Point Guard of the NY Knicks in their auditorium. Mr. Brunson was invited by Mott Hall's 8th Grade Algebra Teacher, Marija Kero, who is an avid Knicks fan, and who attends Knicks games and basketball events. Jalen Brunson, formerly of the Dallas Mavericks, is starting a four-year contract with the Knicks as the Mott Hall Students launch their new school year. Brunson shared his experiences as a student-athlete and spoke about the discipline and sacrifices needed to reach his goal of playing professional basketball.
Originally from New Jersey, Jalen spoke of the time his parents made him choose between basketball and socializing. He picked basketball, worked hard in school, and developed his social life amongst teammates, learning to communicate to bring out the best in his team as a leader. Jalen’s father, Rick, was a former professional basketball player and coach for the New York Knicks. Jalen informed the students that watching his dad work out, getting ready season after season, prepared him mentally for the challenges of the NBA. Jalen also shared the importance of finishing college and advised the students to “never let anyone tell you that you cannot accomplish something”. In high school, he had been told he was too slow, too small, and yet by his junior year of college he won National Player of the Year, two National titles with Villanova, and by 2022, had scored three 30+ point games in the playoffs. Among these accomplishments, while at the prestigious Villanova University, he was an Academic All-American who graduated in just three years.
“If it’s something you want to achieve, you can always find a way”, were Jalen’s words of wisdom to the students. At the end of the event, several Mott Hall Charter School students treated Jalen to a dance contest showing off their fancy footwork, which earned the winner an autographed basketball from Mr. Brunson.
Jalen Brunson throwing hoops with Mott Hall students
Ms. Kero states that "as an avid Knicks fan, I am always at the games and basketball events. When I connected with Jalen, he agreed without hesitation to help us kick off the new school year with the surprise of a lifetime, offering his life story, valuable advice, and even playing basketball against some of our scholars!
I am very passionate about ensuring that we have a strong scholar-athlete program at Mott Hall and hold our athletes to high standards. Having someone like Jalen, who not only won multiple basketball championships and awards, but also academic awards, was the perfect person to speak to our entire student body, but especially our student-athletes."
Mott Hall 8th Grade Algebra teacher Marija Kero interviewing Mr. Brunson
Ms. Kero in her classroom
Highlights of Ms. Kero's classroom