‘Taylor-Made’ Teammate Rewarded For His Character

In this March 2011 file photo, Jamestown’s Jalen Taylor, far right, celebrates with teammates after the Red Raiders captured the Class AA Far West Regional, earning them a berth in the state Final Four. P-J file photo by Scott Kindberg

Courtesy of Zoom, the cloud-based video conferencing service, the Kindberg clan logged in on our laptops, iPads and smartphones Sunday afternoon to conduct an eight-round player draft.

Hailing from Jamestown; suburban Columbus, Ohio; Orlando, Florida; and Madrid, Spain, the eight wannabe player personnel directors/general managers crunched all the measurables and selected the players we liked the most to fill out our rosters.

But, with apologies to another Jamestown native, the exercise had nothing to do with the National Football League.

Sorry, Roger Goodell.

Instead, at a little past 1 p.m., the first Jamestown High School all-time boys basketball team selection process was called to order. For the next two hours, our group — all JHS alums — pored over stat sheets and player rankings, and evaluated intangibles and “upside” for dozens and dozens of players dating back more than 70 years.

My favorite pick didn’t come until the seventh, and next to last, round of the day.

His name?

Jalen Taylor.

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I have known Jalen for nearly 12 years, first as a student-athlete at JHS and, later, as a part-time sportswriter at The Post-Journal. In each role, he stood out among his peers in ways that have left an indelible mark, so much so that I’ll remember him fondly forever.

Allow me to explain.

During his years playing basketball for the Red Raiders, Jalen was not the biggest, the strongest or the most athletic. In fact, he played in just eight games his senior year, scored exactly 3 points and was mostly a spectator during the team’s run to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class AA championship game in Glens Falls in 2011. Needless to say, he was not a candidate to make our newspaper’s all-star team.

If, however, our sports department had selected an all-character team, Jalen would have been the captain.

Consider the following:

¯ How many teenagers, upon being cut from the team as a junior, would shake the hands of each member of the coaching staff and then thank each one for allowing him to try out?

Jalen did.

¯ How many young men, upon head coach Ben Drake realizing he’d made a mistake, would be grateful to be asked to be part of the team after all and never complain when he rarely played.

Only Jalen.

¯ And how many players would put the well-being of others before himself as the team played for a state championship in 2011.

That would be Jalen.


The last bullet point requires explanation. On the Red Raiders’ first night in Glens Falls, Drake was doing bed check at the team hotel. When he knocked on the door of the room Jalen shared with two starters, Drake found Jalen laying across two chairs with a pillow behind him while his two teammates were each in a bed and, obviously, far more comfortable. When asked by his coach why there was such an arrangement, Jalen said, “I’m fine. My boys need their sleep for tomorrow.”

Jamestown then went out the next afternoon and defeated the top-ranked and defending state champion in overtime.

It wasn’t the last time Jalen’s character was on display on the road trip.

Minutes before the championship game the next day, Jamestown’s best player, Jaysean Paige, was in the locker room at the Glens Falls Civic Center frantically looking for his uniform shorts.

Without a word, Jalen took off his shorts and tossed them to his teammate and then put his warmup pants back on and waited for the signal to take the floor. The Red Raiders lost the state title game, but the biggest winner that day, in my opinion, was the young man who wore No. 55.

His name?

Jalen Taylor.

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A 2015 St. Bonaventure University graduate, Jalen contacted me about a part-time opening in the sports department at The Post-Journal. Of course, I was excited about the possibility of him joining our staff. Not surprisingly, he aced the interview, his clip file that he’d compiled while a Bona student was the best I’d ever seen, and he joined our “team” shortly thereafter.

During his time with us, Jalen showed the same character and attention to detail that I had observed while he was a member of the JHS basketball team. His writing was outstanding and his people skills were even better. It was clear that he had a bright future in our business if he chose to continue on that career path.

Ultimately, Jalen decided to explore other opportunities, but his priority was still the same. Finally, a couple months ago, just the right opportunity came his way, prompting him to announce it on Facebook.

“As those who know me can attest, my number one goal in life has always been to make a difference,” he wrote. “With this news, I’m extremely humbled by, and grateful for, the opportunity to do so. To be completely honest with you, admission to an Ivy League law school doesn’t even seem real. I’ve dealt with so much adversity in my life, but I never gave up. Regardless of your current situation, I advise you to do the same.”

That’s why Jalen Taylor (JHS Class of 2011) will always have a place on my all-time “team.”

Cornell University has itself a good one.


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