A science whiz, a professional ballet dancer, a born storyteller, a basketball star, and four others talk about their lives and their hopes for the future
by Esther Kang
The college scouts, the sports reporters, and his teammates at the elite Nike basketball camp don’t know it, but six-foot-seven-inch Jereme Richmond—with his tattoos, size 18 shoes, and formidable wing-span—has a terrible soft spot for his little sister. When the Waukegan High School senior is tempted to slack off—on the court or in the classroom—he often thinks of the wiry, doe-eyed nine-year-old Jordan. “My sister is my motivation for everything I do,” says Richmond, who is also close to his parents, Bill and Kim. “She jokes around and asks me to buy her a mansion when we get older. To me, that’s serious, because I want to be in a spot one day where I can provide for her.”
Heralded as one of the best small forwards in the country, Richmond was only a freshman when he verbally committed to play for Bruce Weber at the University of Illinois next fall. This past March, he sank an exhilarating half-court buzzer beater in a playoff game against Warren Township High School—YouTube videos show incredulous fans rushing the court and piling on top of him—and then led Waukegan to its first appearance (but a narrow loss) in the state championship game against Whitney Young.
While expectations are high for the Bulldogs to win next year, the soft-spoken teen is more concerned about his personal maturation: “Becoming a better teammate, a coachable kid, and a better family member.” After a rocky sophomore year during which he was briefly kicked off the team because of an argument with Waukegan High’s coach, Ron Ashlaw, Richmond says the two have built a trust that played a big role in the team’s success this past spring.
“I don’t think you can be ready for any of the expectations and the media attention until you’re in it,” he says of his all-but-assured career as a basketball player. “My biggest fear isn’t going through the craziness, but that I won’t experience it at all.”
Photograph by Ryan Robinson