It’s not every day that a professional athlete has the time to take care of a young mother’s baby. But that’s exactly what happened when the two met at an Atlanta baby store. It started off as a chance meeting. Suni Lee was at the mall with her mom when Jalen Suggs came in to the store. But it ended up being a very special one.
Jalen Suggs, a 14-year-old gymnast from Jacksonville, Fla., competed in the U.S. gymnastics trials this past weekend. Suggs made the cut for the Olympic team in 2016, but he was cut from the team in the following year. Despite his coaching changes, Suggs remained a strong competitor and won the U.S. gymnastics trials this year. He also scored a perfect 10 on floor exercise, a difficult move for the young gymnast.
The Orlando Magic needed a player who could bring dignity back to a team that had been mired in mediocrity for a decade. As a result, getting Jalen Suggs with the fifth overall selection in the 2021 NBA Draft was huge for Magic fans.
Suggs, an exciting one-and-done player for Gonzaga, would appreciate their support, since he was a distant second on the list of major sports headlines in his hometown on Thursday. It’s the kind of stuff that occurs when one of your childhood pals goes from being an afterthought to being an Olympic superstar.
Jalen Suggs is a good match for the Orlando Magic.
Last autumn, many in St. Paul, Minnesota, and on the AAU basketball circuit were aware that Gonzaga would be receiving a unique basketball player. As a freshman at Minnehaha Academy, Suggs was a precocious talent, averaging 21.5 points and five assists per game. Suggs’ statistics fell as a sophomore, but he led the team to its second consecutive state title and was selected to the all-state first team by the Associated Press.
Things really heated up in his junior year. Suggs was also a rising football star who led his team to the state title. He returned to the floor after the season ended, averaging 23.3 points and 6.3 assists as Minnehaha won their third consecutive Minnesota state championship.
Suggs’ senior year, the football team fell in the state championship after he passed for 25 touchdowns and ran for a dozen, but he averaged 23.3 points in basketball. Despite the fact that the team was unable to defend its state title due to the epidemic, Suggs completed his career with 2,945 points and numerous player of the year awards in both sports.
Several universities expressed interest in him for either sport. Suggs chose Gonzaga to play basketball. He was outstanding as the Bulldogs went undefeated in the regular season. In the NCAA Tournament semifinals versus UCLA, he hit the game-winning shot at the buzzer in overtime. Despite the Bulldogs’ loss in the championship game, NBA scouts saw his promise. The Magic selected him with the fifth overall selection on Thursday.
Suni Lee and Jalen Suggs have a unique connection.
Jalen Suggs was selected fifth overall in the 2021 NBA Draft by the Orlando Magic, only hours after Suni Lee of St. Paul, Minnesota, won the women’s all-around competition at the Tokyo Olympics. | Photo credit: Getty Images .
Even though the local Timberwolves had no chance of getting Suggs, much of the enthusiasm that Twin Cities sports fans had leading up to the NBA draft was overshadowed by overnight events halfway across the globe.
Because colleague Simone Biles withdrew, Sunisa “Suni” Lee, a St. Paul local, was thrust into the limelight and won the women’s gymnastics all-around competition. It was a wonderful tale for an athlete who, while having a great athletic record of her own, has been competing in Biles’ shadow. Suggs, who claimed he spent Thursday morning watching his buddy on TV, said it was just as thrilling.
Suggs said when the Magic chose him, “I contacted her right away and provided the footage because I was tuned in.” “What a fantastic achievement for her. I’m very proud of her. Suni and I are excellent pals. It’s incredible to watch her accomplish that, and now I get to come out and do this. Minnesota sports and athletics are thriving, and two excellent examples may be found in one day.
There’s a third excellent case as well.
Paige Bueckers of UConn is another childhood buddy.
Suggs drew media attention when the Magic selected him first overall in the NBA draft, but it was a close buddy who broke the news first. Another talented athlete from a few miles west of Minneapolis, UConn guard Paige Bueckers, stunned Suggs with a congratulatory video.
Suggs and Bueckers spent a lot of time together after meeting in fourth grade, with basketball as their common denominator. She went to several of Suggs’ football games as they grew up, and he often showed up to her basketball games. According to the Washington Post, in her junior year, Suggs accepted Bueckers’ offer to a Sadie Hawkins dance.
Their AAU teams came together for a scrimmage, with Suggs and Bueckers playing head-to-head, according to the publication. The trash talk, according to Mia Curtis, Suggs’ cousin and Bueckers’ AAU teammate, was tremendous. Even great was the competition.
“They’d protect each other,” she said, “so you’d get some one-on-one action.” “They were both coming to play,” says the narrator. On their respective ends of the floor, they each took control. It was sometimes necessary to simply sit and observe. It was fantastic.”
Today, the whole Twin Cities sports community is in awe of him.
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