Basketball is not just sport to University High’s Jason Wilson.
It is catharsis for an 18-year-old who in the span of three months lost both parents.
His step-mother, Mary Jo, died of a heart attack the end of August.
In November, his father, Wes, died of esophogal cancer.
Wilson’s real mother lives in Seattle, but because he was reared and attended schools in the Valley he prefers to stay here through graduation and attend college locally. His step-sister, Jane Froehlich, has come home from Washington, D.C., to help him cope.
“Without her I don’t know what I’d do,” Wilson said.
Basketball, in the meantime, has been his savior.
“It helps considerably,” the soft-spoken and introspective young man said. “If I were sitting home, I’d go crazy.”
Even Wilson’s sports career has been somewhat trying.
The 6-foot-1, 200-pounder appeared to have a future in football until a knee injury and surgery curtailed it in ninth grade. Since then, he has concentrated on basketball and track.
In track, Wilson was a consistent top-three finisher, winning two of four double-dual league meets, and qualified for regionals in the discus.
But it wasn’t until this season that Wilson made varsity in basketball. He comes off the bench for a team that was tied for third going into Friday night’s game at Lewis and Clark. He never thought of quitting.
“I love the game and just like to play,” he said. “I knew my day would come.”
Although playing mainly a supporting role, Wilson did have a career high 18-point game against Gonzaga Prep to open the Greater Spokane League season.
“He was probably the only guy who went out and played relaxed,” said his coach, Jay Humphrey. “Jason’s having a great year right now. He’s helped off the bench and played solid defense, all under pretty tough circumstances.”
Wilson has been supportive of his teammates in U-Hi’s successes and setbacks.
This is in part because he has a unique perspective, dealing as he has with his grief following the deaths of his parents.
“Some days you feel like giving up,” he said. “But you have to live for each day because you never know what’s going to happen.”
Wilson and his sister can no longer afford the rent on their house and are looking for an apartment.
He is working at Dairy Queen to help pay the bills during his senior year at U-Hi.
University teacher Don Owen has him in two classes and recalled sending home progress reports.
“He said he didn’t know who to have sign them,” Owen said. “I said, ‘Sign it yourself, pardner.’ It made me think. He’s facing obstacles most seniors don’t have to face.”
Thus it is that basketball has become Wilson’s security blanket. And he’s hoping University can make the most of this season.
“I think we can go as far as we want to,” Wilson said. “The big thing is to believe in ourselves.”
That’s a philosophy that serves Jason Wilson both on the basketball court and in life.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo
A brave girl jumps from the rocks on the west side of Tubbs Hill as her two friends watch. (Don Sausser/Facebook photo)
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