NBA champion Richard Jefferson returns to alma mater

NBA champion Richard Jefferson returns to alma mater
Posted on 09/23/2016
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September 2016 – On Friday, September 23, Moon Valley High School welcomed a special guest to its fall assembly.

Richard Jefferson, a 1998 graduate of the school and current NBA champion for the Cleveland Cavaliers, surprised students by returning to the very basketball court that helped him get his start.

Jefferson fondly remembered his days as a Rocket.

“I was a bit of a knucklehead growing up. I was a normal Westside kid growing up,” he said. “I actually failed freshman P.E. – swear to God. I failed freshman P.E. because I just didn’t dress out. But part of that failure was growing up and maturing.”

Guidance from then-Coach John Boie (who continues to teach at the school today), saw potential in the teenager, and convinced Jefferson to work harder at school.

“Coach Boie, my sophomore year told me, when I was 6 foot 6, he told me he couldn’t have me on Varsity if I wasn’t going to be eligible. So I was like, ‘OK, I’ll start getting good grades.’”

After he graduated from Moon Valley, Jefferson attended the University of Arizona. His professional basketball career began with the New Jersey Nets in 2001. He was also a member of the 2004 US Summer Olympics team in Athens.

Jefferson’s first championship win was with the MVHS basketball team, when they won the 4A Conference Basketball Championships in 1997-1998. His next championship win did not occur until 2016 when he played a major role in the Cavs securing the title against the Golden State Warriors.

“Winning has always been the ultimate goal,” he said.

Jefferson’s love for the game has outweighed any monetary decision during his career, he said. He encouraged students to find their passion and to follow their dreams to the end.

“The one thing I want to tell you guys is find your passion, find something that you love to do and let it take you wherever you want to go. It could be art. It could be teaching. It could be sports. It could be anything that you want. Find it and allow it to take you wherever you want.”

Although Jefferson lives in California, he has family in Phoenix and a niece who attends Independence High School. He said his roots are here and he will eventually return to the Valley of the Sun.

His public education is a proud part of his history and one reason for his current success, he said. Without his education and the belief Coach Boie had in him to be successful not just at basketball, but academically, too, are reasons for his accomplishments. 

Please enjoy this highlight video from his visit.

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