ESPN ranked Philadelphia area high school senior Jay Harris as the #2 wide receiver in the state of Pennsylvania and the #17 senior in the state overall. As you might expect, Harris received several scholarship offers from Division I programs such as Penn State, Old Dominion Temple and Michigan State.
Harris signed a letter of intent in February to attend Michigan State. Awesome! Kid works hard and realizes his dream of playing Division I football. If he continues to improve while playing in a conference like the Big Ten, professional opportunities may await him in the future.
Sounds like a good story so far, right? No...not so much. Jay Harris has given up his scholarship at Michigan State to become a rapper. Look, I like rap and respect rappers. This is not about rap although some will undoubtedly chuckle and/or make negative comments about the world's most popular music genre.
This is about taking opportunities off the table and going full-bore into one that may be over before you can blink. Harris could have earned a degree, pursued a professional athletic career and honed his rap skills. He didn't have to give it all up. College campuses are where many contemporary rappers develop.
Harris could have easily pursued rap by performing at college parties and other campus events. Rick Rubin started Def Jam Records in his...wait for it...dorm! Ludacris graduated Summa Cum Laude from Georgia State University. Chuck D and Flava Flav formed the legendary group Public Enemy while students at Aldephi University where they both graduated.
Yes, Flava Flav has a college degree. So, you have no more excuses.
Harris' decision speaks to a lack of guidance in his life. As much as I write about parents and coaches being too involved, someone should have stepped in to redirect this young man. There are some mistakes we can't let kids make. The opportunity he was afforded and is now giving up should not have been taken so lightly.
We all know most kids will not be offered a Division I scholarship. Lottery odds are often better. Harris is one of those fortunate kids whose sports skill could be life-changing. His parents and coaches should have impressed that upon him more.
Parents and coaches must encourage kids to maximize every opportunity. It's impossible to lock an open door. Let's make sure our kids open every one they can. Jay Harris' stage name is Jay Datbull. We'll see if he becomes the next Pitbull or his music becomes just plain bull.