By Rebecca

I attended Brigham Young University (BYU) the same time as the famous Mormon athlete Jimmer Fredette. I remember the hostile debates throughout Utah in response to another student’s article in The Daily Universe (school newspaper at BYU), who complained that people shouldn’t worship Jimmer so much. Facebook and other social media sites became filled with comments on Jimmer and videos (like the “How to Jimmer” video). The Marriot Center (basketball stadium) was always overflowing with Jimmer fans, and basketball tickets sold out quickly. I even remember attending a football game elsewhere where BYU students cheered with an oversized cardboard sign showing a portrait of Jimmer. Even our local congregation leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (inaccurately called the Mormon Church by some) dressed up as Jimmer for Halloween.


Mormon Jimmer_FredetteThe first time I saw Jimmer play basketball, I was unsure of which player to watch because his shirt actually said, “Fredette.” However, I quickly figured out he was the player scoring lots of three-pointers. As a BYU freshman, he was the team’s fifth-leading scorer, and as a sophomore, BYU’s second-leading scorer. He was named an All-Mountain West Conference player; broke the “48-year-old BYU [school] record of 47 points in a game”; helped BYU win the double-overtime game in the NCAA Tournament; and was featured in the “Hoops Heroes” article of Sports Illustrated. After he made scoring shots, fans began shouting “You got Jimmered,” and the “Jimermania” phenomenon began, as people worldwide starting cheering for BYU’s famous Mormon athlete. [1] Jimmer’s actual name is James Taft Fredette, but he goes by the nickname “Jimmer,” which his mother gave him when he was born February 25, 1989, in New York. [2]

Jimmer in BYU’s Record Books [3]

James Taft “Jimmer” Fredette (born February 25, 1989) was drafted to the Sacramento Kings of the National Basketball Association. He gained national fame during his collegiate career at Brigham Young University, where he was the leading scorer in all of NCAA Division I basketball during his senior season and earned every major National Player of the Year honor, including the Wooden Award, the Naismith Award, the Adolph Rupp Trophy, and the Oscar Robertson Trophy. Jimmer is a native of Glens Falls, New York

All-Time Scoring Leader: Jimmer Fredette, Guard, 2008–2011, 139 games & 2,599 points.

Best Individual Scoring Performances, #1. Jimmer Fredette scored 52 points on March 11, 2011, vs. New Mexico; #2. Jimmer Fredette scored 49 points on Dec. 28, 2009, at Arizona; #T-3. Bob Skousen 47 Dec. 2, 1961, UCLA

30+ Point Games, #1. Jimmer Fredette (2008–11): 24.

Points in One Season, #1. Jimmer Fredette (2011), 1,068 points, 28 (PPG).

Three-Point Field Goals, #1. Jimmer Fredette (2008–11): 296.

The Wooden National Player of the Year [4] started his fame and basketball career before he began his education and at the age of five he was able to throw three-pointers. [2]In 2007, he played basketball with inmates at Mount McGregor Correctional Facility (New York), and these criminals have become some of his fans following Jimmer’s career. He was the youngest one there with an older group of teenagers who played against a team of inmates (personal communication, Jeff Kimball, June 13, 2011).

Whenever Jimmer played there, he won. As much as the inmates wanted their team to beat the civilians, they soon began cheering as this kid made ridiculous shot after ridiculous shot. Did playing with the R-rated taunts and jeers from the inmates watching help his mental game? He thinks so: [5]

Obviously there are a lot more people in big arenas in college, but what they say to you doesn’t bother you because I heard pretty much everything in those prisons … I think that helped me get better at blocking the crowd out and just focusing on the game. [6]

Jimmer currently plays for the Sacramento Kings. The NBA rookie was selected 10th in the NBA draft and the number one overall pick according to social media. However, he is only at the beginning of his professional career and is adjusting to not being the star player, playing against more challenging defenders and not firing whenever he wants to. “At 6 feet 2 inches tall, Fredette lacks the protypical size of an NBA shooting guard, whose average height hovers around 6 foot 5.” Unfortunately, the famous Mormon has spent a lot of time on the bench and needs more than his average 1.8 assists per game (Jordan Schultz, “Jimmer Fredette: A Full Examination of His Less-than-stellar Rookie Season,” Huffington Post, April 09, 2012). However, I believe that Jimmer won’t easily forget or give up his childhood dream to play in the NBA. He didn’t stop reaching for his goals when people didn’t tell him he was good enough.

Bishop Kimball (my local congregation leader) witnessed Jimmer’s commitment and agility during a practice session where his brother shot him ball after ball.

He would run to different stations. He had a sequence where he would stand under the basket with his back to the basket, run out to baseline at full speed, turn and jump up to take the shot, run to other side of court and rotate. When he was the most tired after doing that for 5 min or something he would shoot 10 free throws. Then go right back into running… Out of 10 sequences of 10 free throws, he made 100 (personal communication, June 13, 2011).

His brother TJ was a key part to his practice (personal communication, Jeff Kimball, June 13, 2011) and without their team effort, Jimmer might not have become a famous Mormon. Jimmer’s brother encouraged him to “dribble through the church halls in the dark trying to get his skills…”

Jimmer had to dribble the length of a narrow church hallway in the dark. To add to the difficulty, TJ and his friends would jump out of rooms in an attempt to rattle Jimmer. “He wanted me to get better at keeping my head up while dribbling,” Jimmer recalls. “All you could see was the light in the foyer that they had on. It was pretty much pitch-black, so I was doing all these dribbling drills—between the legs and behind the back, crossovers, and everything I could do to get down the hallway and get there safely.”

Even then, Jimmer was focused on the NBA. As Jimmer excelled in high school, TJ wondered if his brother could handle all of the sacrifices required to reach that goal. So TJ drew up a contract. After practice one night, TJ removed the contract from his pocket and asked Jimmer to read it: “I, James T. Fredette, agree on this day, Jan. 27, 2007, to do the work and make the necessary sacrifices to be able to reach my ultimate goal of playing in the NBA.”

Jimmer signed the piece of paper and hung it in the room he and TJ shared in Glens Falls. He read the contract every day. “It reminded me of what my goal was,” says Jimmer, “and if I didn’t want to work hard or practice that day, I would look at that and think, ‘You have to work as hard as you possibly can and do things other kids aren’t doing in order to be the best and reach your goal.’ It was a big help.” (Jeff Call, “Jimmer,” BYU Magazine, Spring 2011)

mormon-Christ-HealingAs I learned more about Jimmer’s character, I appreciated his Christ-like example and service to his community. I know that we can encourage others to develop their talents and reach their potential as children of God. I may not be a star basketball player, but I know that I am good at dancing, music, and art. We should each build up our own personal talents:

For all have not every gift given unto them; for there are many gifts, and to every man is given a gift by the Spirit of God. To some is given one, and to some is given another, that all may be profited thereby. To some it is given by the Holy Ghost to know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that he was crucified for the sins of the world. To others it is given to believe on their words, that they also might have eternal life if they continue faithful (revelation by the modern prophet Joseph Smith as recorded in Doctrine & Covenants 46:11-14)

The famous Mormon Jimmer is more focused on his family relationships than on playing basketball. He knows that family relationships are eternal. He said, “Basketball will only be there for so long, but the gospel and your family and relationships you have will be there for eternity. That’s what I’m focused on…” [7]Jimmer attended The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with his family and after turning 8 years old, he chose to be baptized a member. His father joined the church when he was 18, his mother is Catholic, and his two siblings were also baptized LDS members.

When missionaries knock on a Glens Falls door and introduce themselves as representatives of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, they are usually met with blank stares. Then the missionaries will say, “By the way, we’re from the same church as Jimmer…” People laugh and it really breaks the ice. Jimmer has brought a lot of recognition for the Church.

…Back in high school, Jimmer was known as either the Mormon kid or the basketball player. “Everyone knew I was affiliated with both. That was a good thing,” Jimmer says. “It helps people realize what I’m all about and what our church is all about. . . . Even if they didn’t know the doctrine or know anything about the Church, hopefully they could at least see that our family was a good example of how people should live.” [1]

Jimmer Fredette Wedding MormonJimmer got married the beginning of June 2012 in the Denver Mormon Temple to Whitney Wonnacott. He married the ex-BYU cheerleader in a Mormon temple which is a sacred place (House of the Lord) where couples make eternal marriage covenants (promises with God). I love the temple and am grateful for the authority God has restored on the earth again to bless families worldwide. It brings me lots of peace to know that I can live with my family after death. (See LDS Temples to find a Mormon temple near you.)

The divine plan of happiness enables family relationships to be perpetuated beyond the grave. Sacred ordinances and covenants available in holy temples make it possible for individuals to return to the presence of God and for families to be united eternally. [8]

Additional Resources:

What do Mormons Believe? See the LDS website about the Restoration of Jesus Christ’s Church

Read your own free copy of The Book of Mormon

Jabari Parker: Mormon Athlete

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