By Sayema Tareq
BOWIE, Md. – It was his last chance to get a win on his home court. He was destined to play on this stage. His father, his uncle, and his brother had done it before him, and now it was his turn.
Jerian Grant, 17, looked out at the incredible sold-out crowd, cheering and yelling on senior night at the school gymnasium. There was an overwhelming aura of excitement, which translated into the smile on his face.
Jerian looked at his team, which wore the same white jerseys as him with the name DeMatha written across the chest in red and blue.
He had played with them for four years and this was his final opportunity to represent the DeMatha Catholic High School Stags on that court because he was a senior. He and his high school varsity basketball team were determined to beat Our Lady of Good Counsel High School, and that’s exactly what they did – 79-65.
“I was excited when I was on the court with my best friends. And when it was over, I was sad and felt like crying because I would never get a chance like that again,” Grant said. “But it’s something I’ll never forget.”
Later, DeMatha went on to win its second Washington Catholic Athletic Conference championship in a row.
Now Jerian, of Bowie, Md., is on his way to the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind., on a basketball scholarship. He said he has always wanted to play for a Division I college. He added that a lot was expected of him because of his family’s background in basketball.
His father, Harvey Grant, and uncle, Horace Grant, both played in the NBA. His older brother, Jerai, currently is playing college basketball as a Tiger, at Clemson University in South Carolina.
Jerian said he has had to put in a lot of hard work to become a star on his own and not ride on the reputation of his family.
The task has not been easy. He and his team worked hard to win back-to-back championships. He said they practiced six days a week to become a championship team.
“You have to be willing to give up a lot of social time and fun to play because there’s curfews a lot when your friends are out partying and you have to rest up for big games,” he said.
But he kept playing everyday, willingly making those sacrifices to get better.
As a 4-year-old, Jerian would play basketball at a local park just for fun, trying to be like his father, and developed a strong passion for the game.
“I love basketball and I can’t see myself without it in my life,” he said, looking at the basketball posters hung up in his room.
He played for his first basketball team, the Kettering-Largo-Mitchellville Cougars, when he was six, learning the basics of the game. Growing up, he would often watch the former Washington Bullets – now the Washington Wizards — practice because his father was a forward on the team.
He continued playing basketball in middle school and joined the Nike Team Takeover for AAU. In high school, he chose to go to DeMatha, which was a dominating basketball force in Maryland. He has started as a guard since his sophomore year.
“Hard work pays off,” said Jerian, who won the most valuable player award in his AAU championship game. “I know there’s always someone out there working harder than me and I had to do better.”
He looked down at his green Notre Dame sweatshirt and smiled.
“I knew if I kept working as hard, I knew I could do it and it would happen,” he said.