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Sunday, June 23, 2024

Juju Watkins Parents, Sari and Robert Neal-Watkins

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Who are Juju Watkins parents? Well, Juju Watkins concluded her high school basketball career with the prestigious Gatorade National Girls Basketball Player of the Year award, a surprise carefully kept by her parents. “Receiving one of the most esteemed awards and winding up my high school career this way is truly special to me,” she expressed to The Athletic.

Juju Watkins Parents intention against her game

Born on 15 July 2005 to Sari and Robert Neal-Watkins, Juju Watkins was raised with her three older siblings in Watts, California. Her grandfather, Ted Watkins Sr., a civil rights activist, founded the Watts Labor Community Action Committee in response to the 1965-Watts riots, and Juju honed her basketball skills at a gym in Watts named in his honor.

Although both Sari and Robert had basketball backgrounds, they initially wanted Juju to pursue a career in tennis, drawing inspiration from the Williams sisters. However, Juju was adamant about choosing basketball. She shared with ESPN:

“I had to convince my mom about my passion for basketball. Their philosophy was, ‘Don’t embark on anything unless you’re fully committed.’”

The initial struggle with grasping fundamental skills almost put a premature end to Juju’s basketball career as she saw minimal play during her first travel ball year. However, Juju’s spirit remained unbroken; she pleaded with her parents to help her become a better player, and they agreed. Robert’s remarks to ESPN highlighted Juju’s exceptional ability to implement learned techniques in her games fearlessly and promptly.

With her relentless hard work and fervor, Juju began to acknowledge her talent when she was just 12. “That was the moment I realized the extent to which basketball could take me,” she told ESPN.

Sari and Robert—Unperturbed by Fame and Focus on Juju’s Development

Sari attributed Juju’s rapid growth as a player to her consistency. “To be consistent in life is crucial. The moment she got serious, we put in all our energy to help her grow. That was our priority,” Sari expressed.

As Watkins’ on-court performance improved, her fame rose exponentially, and she began to gather fans during her middle school years. Watkins saw the growing recognition as a motivation to further enhance her skills.

“The recognition fueled my desire to progress even more and make a name for myself,” Watkins explained. Her parents, Sari and Robert, remained unfazed by her rising celebrity status, keeping their focus on refining her game and personal growth. They expressed their indifference towards the fame, saying:

“We didn’t pay much attention to her growing popularity, as our primary focus was on improving her talents and ensuring she turned out to be a good person. The other aspects never concerned us.”

When Watkins transferred from Windward School to her dream school, Sierra Canyon, Robert and Sari relocated the family from Watts to northern Los Angeles. Watkins’ parents emphasized their intentions were always centered on their daughter’s happiness.

“Our objective was to make decisions that would ensure her happiness,” Sari stated. “We were simply supporting our daughter and ensuring her happiness. Nothing else mattered.”

Consistent Support from Juju Watkins Parents

Juju Watkins, a rising star in the basketball world, is the proud daughter of Sari and Robert Neal-Watkins. Acknowledged as the second best player of the graduating class of 2023 by ESPN Hoopgurlz, she owes a lot to her basketball-loving family. Her mother, Sari, was a basketball player during her time at Washington Prep and her father, Robert Neal, had a successful stint at Verbum Dei. Juju stepped into the world of basketball at the young age of seven, thanks to her uncle who enrolled her in a park league.

Her family’s unyielding support is always visible, with cheerleading and advice flowing incessantly from the sidelines during Watkins’ games. A memorable moment occurred during her outstanding 79-28 victory over Bishop Montgomery, when she asked her family for a moment of silence. This remarkable achievement resulted in her becoming the first female prep athlete to sign with the Klutch Sports Group, co-owned by LeBron James and Rich Paul. Juju’s father, Robert, states that the family always strives to push her towards excellence, an effort mirrored by Juju’s hard work in her studies and training.

Juju’s Basketball Journey Began at Seven

Juju Watkins embarked on her basketball journey around the age of seven, often playing against male peers at the WCLAC. By the time she reached Windward Middle School in the seventh grade, her skillset was unparalleled. Her opponents were often forced to deploy complex defense strategies, including variations of the box-and-one. However, even with four defenders working to contain her, Juju was unstoppable.

High School Debut Full of Learning

Upon joining the high school team, Juju Watkins faced a steep learning curve, moving beyond just playing against more experienced players. She had to quickly upgrade her game to be competitive. Despite the challenges, she emerged as the team’s statistical leader in points, rebounds, assists, and steals, while also impressing with her defensive prowess. Her impressive performances even attracted the attention of the late Kobe Bryant, who followed her on Instagram.

Juju’s Great Grandfather: Ted Watkins

Juju’s great grandfather, Ted Watkins, although she never met him, was the founder of the Watts Labor Community Action Committee, established after the Watts riots. His legacy remains through a park named in his honor where Juju often trains.

Kate Brown
Kate Brown
I am a writer and journalist based in New York. Since the start of my career, I have been in Content Marketing and have proven record by featuring businesses, products and technology on various news outlets like Forbes, entrepreneur.com, magzica.com, inc.com, businessinsider.com

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